Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci

The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci
ISBN: 0152061916
Harcourt, 2008
212 p.

Plot Summary: Kurt Carmody lives on a small island on the east coast. One night, down on a rather dangerous pier near the beach, his sister Casey goes missing during a party. Apparently, a small gun was seen being passed among the party guests. Now it is up to Kurt and police officer Lutz to question the partygoers and other quirky townspeople including a psychic to find out what happened to Casey. A few other complications such as Stacy's pregnancy and some trouble at home seem like they will intertwine with the case somehow.

Critical Analysis: The Night My Sister Went Missing is told in a fascinating manner, Plum-Ucci tells all of the events in one night. This helps capture the anxiety and hurriedness that law enforcers feel in those crucial forty eight hours after a crime. This also allows for the interesting whodunit element of the story, letting the reader take the facts and hints that Plum-Ucci drops until the perpetrator is found.

One problem with Plum-Ucci's book is the dialogue. It reminds me of another teen noir form of media, a film called Brick. In both, the teenagers talk to the police and everyone else like a cynical hardened detective, which feels fake. Some young adult authors capture the casual conversation between teenagers quite well, Plum-Ucci is unfortunately not one of those authors.

Another criticism I have of Plum-Ucci is that this book was difficult to follow. I know in mystery and whodunit books some red herrings and false plot developments are needed to keep the mystery going, but Plum-Ucci took it too far. Keeping track of all of the characters and the drama that was going on with them and whether it was important or not was distracting, making it a tough recommendation for an average young adult reader.

Reader's Annotation: Kurt's sister Casey has gone missing and now he only has the night to find out what happened to her. How will he put the pieces together and determine if his sister is safe?

Author Information: Plum-Ucci tends to set her stories on barrier islands, a tendency because she lived on them growing up. She is best known for her book The Body of Christopher Creed.

Source: http://www.carolplumucci.com/abouttheauthor.html

Genre: mystery, whodunit

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Reading Level Ages 14-17

Challenge Issues: language

Challenge Defense Ideas: Become familiar with the book, keeping the challenge issues in mind. Refer to the library's collection development policy here. If possible, find other opinions from reviews, recommendations, or others who have read the book.

Why I included this title: I thought the premise of Plum-Ucci's mystery was unique, in that the mystery was solved in a night. It was also short and to the point, perhaps good features for a reluctant reader.

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