Book Review: The Vanishing Season

The Vanishing Season
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Page Count: 256
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, Mystery

The Vanishing Season is a story of friendship, betrayal, and love. Maggie has recently moved to Water Street in Door County, Wisconsin. Her new home is an idyllic small town that caters to tourists in the summer and battles snowdrifts in the winter. Maggie isn't sure that she will be able to adapt after living in Chicago her entire life. To make matters worse, her family is struggling financially. Maggie knows that moving to the old home they inherited will help with money issues, but she can't help being slightly resentful.

Maggie also worries about making friends and finding a job. She is home-schooled by her father because public schools were not a challenge for her - even after skipping a grade. This educational isolation makes it difficult to meet people in a new town, but Maggie quickly befriends her next door neighbor, Pauline. Pauline is the same age as Maggie and insanely beautiful. Pauline's best friend, Liam, is like her shadow and he quickly becomes a friend to Maggie as well. This trio soon becomes inseparable. 

At it's heart, this is a story about the journey of friendship. Friendships are not always smooth paths. They often have detours and ruts. These detours often cause searing pain in our youth and leave marks. Maggie, Pauline, and Liam will all forever be changed based on their time together.

I have to say that it took me awhile to settle into this story and these characters. I didn't like Liam and Pauline for most of the novel; they both seemed selfish in so many ways. I didn't like the way they treated Maggie. On the other hand, I did like Maggie, but I didn't always approve of her choices. None of these characters are easy to love. In fact, the only characters I liked all the way through the read were Maggie's parents. 

In addition to the contemporary story, there is another narrator who at first glance appears to be some sort of spirit or ghost. I admit that I found these elements to be distracting and confusing at first. I really had no idea who this narrator was or how they fit into the main story. I encourage readers to fight past the frustration with this narrator - everything will be clear in the end. When I finally figured things out I was in shock. I found this element to be extremely clever; I never saw it coming and its gives me chills. 

On a side note: I love the cover of this one. It fits the story so well and has a haunting vibe to it.

One Last Gripe: The beginning was a bit slow.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I really loved the twist at the end. It made me see the story in a completely different light.

First Sentence: A key is buried under the front stairs of 208 Water Street.

Favorite Character: Maggie - even though she frustrated me at times

Least Favorite Character: Pauline 

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.