Different kinds of paradise and Lauren Oliver’s Vanishing Girls

Mom’s patio. Heaven!

We’re on vacation right now; spending time at my mom’s house in Arizona. It’s beautiful here, and I’m writing this on the patio. In February. We escaped the cold and snow for this, and we picked the perfect week. But for each member of this family, this week has paradise for different reasons.

For me, I love being around my mom and step dad. I like to see that they are active and happy, and have a busy social life. I love them both so much, and knowing that their ‘golden’ years are so enriched and busy means that they are healthy, happy, and fulfilled.

For my oldest, it means spoilage. She gets spoiled rotten; we usually go shopping just for her. Yes, we all get a few other things, but it is mostly for the ‘tween. Her clothes will eventually make it to my younger daughter. There is also the fun time spent with Grandma and Grandpa, the unlimited screen time (because, as beautiful as it is, there is only so much for an 11 year-old to do in a retirement community), and getting out of school.

For my younger daughter, there is excessive attention. We’re in a retirement community with a lot of retirees, most of whom are grandparents. But most of the grandkids don’t live nearby, so the chance to hug and love on a sprite like mine is not wasted. And my girl LOVES it. She hugs liberally and often, and gets truly excited to meet new people. Grandma and grandpa love on her like crazy, of course, but the excess attention is a huge, happy bonus for my girl.

And, for the hubs, the whole thing is heaven. You would think visiting the in-laws would be torture, but he loves it. He comes out here, spends time in the sunshine, and does what he does for people he loves. He cooks like crazy, he fixes stuff like crazy, he offers his services to everyone around. Because of his mad skillz in so many different areas, he is the toast of my mom’s group, and he could not be happier.

So, we’re down here, doing some relaxing in relative sunshine (they think the wind is a little cooling, but it’s been below zero in Ohio for most of the days we’ve been gone, so I can’t complain about the wind), and enjoying it in each of our own ways, which makes us all happy together.

And now onto Lauren Oliver’s Vanishing Girls.

I was privileged to get an advanced copy of Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver. This book will be released on March 10, 2015, and is available for pre-order (on Amazon for $4.99!).

Another note: This is definitely a YA book. But it is a great read and a pretty good mystery, and it’s nice to read a YA book on vacation (it’s a perfect time for what Jonathan Franzen calls ‘moral simplicity’).

Vanishing Girls is the story of two sisters, Nick (Nicole) and Dara. Nick is the older, more mature, ‘good’ girl while her little sister Dara is bold, daring, attention seeking, and dangerous. That is, before the car accident that leaves Dara scarred and Nick less sure about anything.

After the horrific car accident, Dara won’t speak to Nick, pushing Nick to seek reconciliation and reconnection in many different ways. After Dara goes missing on her birthday (and after another girl in town has vanished), Nick takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of what happened to Dara before, and after, the accident.

This book is an interesting mystery, but underneath that is a psychological study of the symbiotic relationship of sisters. Dara and Nick are physically almost identical, but Nick considers herself ‘plain.’ Dara colors her hair, wears a lot of makeup, and dresses daringly, while Nick is more staid and conventional. Both long for a slice of the other, while afraid to be anything other than what they are.

This is a great book for older girls–I would say at least 10th grade. There is explicit drug use and drinking as well as sexual content and innuendo. Until your child is old enough to see that this behavior is inappropriate, I would stay away from it. I give it four stars for what it is, an intriguing YA mystery.


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