Published by Harper Teen on July 1st, 2014
Genres: young adult
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From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes The Vanishing Season, at once haunting and lovely, with a gut-wrenching final twist that will keep readers on their toes. It's perfect for fans of Gayle Forman, Lauren Myracle, and Laurie Halse Anderson. Girls started vanishing in the fall. For Maggie Larsen, the town of Gill Creek is only a stopgap before college and freedom. Until she meets Pauline and Liam. What starts as an uneventful year suddenly changes. Someone is killing teenaged girls, and the town reels from the tragedy. As Maggie's and Pauline's worlds collide and change around them, they will both experience love and loss. View Spoiler »And by the end of the book, only one of them will survive. « Hide Spoiler
I’ve been kind of going back and forth on whether to rate this a three or a four. But after a good night’s sleep and some time to let the book sink in, I’ve decided it’s definitely a four. The Vanishing Season, while not perfect, moved me. Jodi Lynn Anderson wove her words into a weapon and freaking impaled me.
So this book doesn’t have much of a plot. Maggie Larsen moves from Chicago to this teen tiny town on the edge of Lake Michigan, right as a serial killer hits his peak. Girls Maggie’s age are going missing all over the area and the small town gossip is at an all time high. Meanwhile, Maggie befriends Pauline and Liam, her two closest neighbors. Despite the serial killer and the high level of threat they’re facing because of it, The Vanishing Season doesn’t focus on that. There are no teenage girl detectives, no vigilante justice, no searching for clues and throwing oneself in danger. Instead, this is the story of Pauline, Maggie, and Liam and their relationships with one another. So if you’re looking for a high intensity thriller – or even the ghost story merely hinted at in some synopses – look elsewhere. This is a quiet book, and one that subtly weaves itself onto your heart without you even knowing it.
Jodi Lynn Anderson has perfectly captured the teenage experience within the pages of The Vanishing Season. Maggie feels the stress of her parents’ struggles with money. She suffers the loss of moving to a new town, finding new friends. She feels the rush of first love and shattering of betrayal and the cold starkness of heartbreak. And all of these moments are so important to her, but at the same time they are never overdone of melodramatic. Instead, they feel incredibly real, and you feel them all with her. I found myself not exactly understanding Maggie – I couldn’t have been more different from her as a teen if I tried – but I did feel protective of her. I wanted everything to work out, I wanted a happy ending for Maggie and because of this I felt each blow as if it were happening to me too. This book hurt.
The writing was simply beautiful. It wasn’t over the top on the descriptions, but it worked perfectly in the vast whiteness of the wintry landscape. It conveyed the atmosphere perfectly. It’s summer here, 80+ degrees, and upon closing this novel, I forgot – I thought it was winter. Anderson’s writing is so powerful it that it is able to pull you into the book and make you forget who and where you are. I especially loved the passages from the ghost’s point of view. Playing with non-linear time is tricky, but this worked well for me and didn’t have me inside my own head trying to figure it out. And the voice was lonely and distinct, a perfect contrast to the rest of the story’s narration.
The ending broke my heart. I read this in two sittings, and most of it through the night. I tried going to sleep once, but I couldn’t dislodge the niggling in the back of my head telling me that I needed to keep reading. I’m glad for it. After finishing I kind of just laid in bed in a sort of emotional-soup-stupor. I didn’t see the end coming at all and it shattered me when it arrived. And even though it was heartbreaking and so, so freaking sad, it was happy, too, in a way.
I can’t wait to read more from Jodi Lynn Anderson. I haven’t read Tigerlily yet but now I’m way more interested than I was before. I highly recommend The Vanishing Season though, to all sorts of readers. It’s quiet and creeps up on you, but before you know it, you are a hundred percent invested in these characters. Anderson takes a small slice of their lives and pulls you in, demands you become a part of it. You won’t be disappointed.