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Book Reviews

May, 2001


Missing, (p/b, 192 p. , Allen & Unwin, 2000, $14.95)
Maxine's brother Derek has gone missing. After a year, a body identified as his has been found in a squat and given a funeral. The effect on the family over the last year has been devastating, but now, Maxie hopes, her mother will overcome the grief and get on with her life. No such luck. Her mother is holding seances and imagining her son's presence. As if this isn't bad enough, Maxine begins to receive phone calls from a boy who says he's Derek.

If Derek is dead, who is this stranger and what does he want? If Derek isn't dead, who's in his grave? She can't discuss it with either of her parents. She has no friends at school, except Cam, whom she never liked much before. And the school bully is after both of them. Could he be the murderer of her brother?

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This is a fast-paced little thriller which is a good introduction to the genre, suitable for teens from about thirteen to fifteen. The heroine and her family are sympathetic characters and as well as the thriller elements, there is an examination of what it might be like to be the family of a missing child.



By Mary Hooper. Bloomsbury, 2000. PB,164 p. $14.95

Holly is a schoolgirl working a holiday job at a cafe when she starts receiving anonymous gifts there - expensive ones. At first, she is thrilled, wondering which of the good-looking young tourists is her secret admirer. Then she worries it might be a stalker.

It turns out to be neither, but when she does find out who the secret gift-giver is, she is not happy. Holly needs to have a serious discussion with her mother, before their happy family life is destroyed...

A gentle, enjoyable story. Possibly the happy ending is a little forced, but never mind. The "B" story, about her friend in search of a long-lost father, is also interesting, obviously intended as a parallel to Holly's story.

Recommended for girls between about 13 and 16.

Sue B

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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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