Submitted by Murder by the Book, Portland, Oregon (www.mbtb.com):
The Night She Disappeared by April Henry
Henry Holt, ISBN 9780805092622, $16.99
We know Portland author April Henry from her adult books and because of her makes-us-laugh sense of humor. She has co-authored other young adult books, but this is her first solo YA venture.
This is a different kettle of fish than Henry's adult books. It's serious and thriller-intense. Kayla Cutler, a 17-year-old girl, disappeared while delivering pizza. Her coworkers and classmates, Andrew "Drew" Lyle and Gabriella "Gabie" Klug, become involved even though they know next to nothing about either Kayla or her disappearance.
Drew is trying to earn enough money to keep a roof over his head. In the brief scenes in which she is introduced, it's obvious that something is wrong with Drew's mother, and his father is nowhere to be seen. Henry draws out Drew's story over the course of the novel, until his plight is finally revealed. It could be maudlin, but Henry does a good job making it moving instead.
Gabie is the daughter of two high-powered surgeons. She's smart, independent by necessity, and down-to-earth. Gabie had switched shifts at Pete's Pizza with Kayla. It was Kayla who was working the night that Drew took a phone order from a man who wanted to know if Gabie was working that night. Drew didn't answer his question, and Kayla took the delivery. And disappeared. The police and Kayla's family do everything they can to find her body and her killer. Gabie, on the other hand, has a vague feeling that Kayla is still alive.
Gabie and Drew struggle to come to terms with Gabie's intuition and the opposing evidence the police have found, including a young man they suspect of being the killer.
It's not just a book for young adults, old adults can enjoy the tension and characterizations as well. Henry is a good storyteller, and she fashions her plot well.