They Never Came Back

My daughter fell in love with Caroline B. Cooney when she read Code Orange a few years ago. She read several more titles, and often urged me to join her, but until I listened to They Never Came Back, I never had.

We both enjoyed this school story with a mysterious twist. The cover is a little creepy, but the premise isn’t really. One day Cathy Ferris is eating lunch in the cafeteria when a classmate, Tommy, comes over to her insisting she’s his cousin Murielle. Five years ago Murielle’s parents disappeared, fleeing persecution from embezzlement. At first his 10-year-old cousin Murielle lived with them, but when his parents were suspected to be in on the scheme, she was put in foster care, where she was lost in the system.

The story is told in alternating chapters from Cathy’s and Murielle’s points of view (present and past) as the truth of the situation is revealed.

This book is neither creepy nor scary, as the title and cover might lead you to believe. It moves along at a nice pace, though it isn’t completely suspenseful (This is a good thing for me, so don’t read it as a negative. I can’t read too many heart-thumping action-packed novels without fearing for my cardiovascular health).

At this writing the hardcover is available at a great bargain price.

CONTENT NOTE: The content is very clean in this novel featuring 15-year-olds. There’s some very very mild crushing going on, but no other “mature” behavior or cursing, as far as I remember, which makes it a perfect book for those older middle grade readers (4th and up) who are looking for more “grown up” reading fare, yet it’s also appropriate enough for older middle school readers looking for a clean read.

AUDIOBOOK NOTES: Suzy Jackson’s voice was upbeat and pert and was a delight to listen to. You can hear a sample (the opening pages) at the Brilliance Audio site.

Jennifer Donovan’s whole family loves to read, from her husband to her 13-year-old daughter (who also liked this book) to her 7 1/2 year old son. She blogs at Snapshot about other things that keep them busy.

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