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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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Title: The Vanishing Season
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 14+
Pages: 304
More by this author: Tiger Lily, Peaches


Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.

I picked up The Vanishing Season because I really loved Anderson's last novel, a gorgeous retelling of Peter Pan. Oddly, I hadn't heard much about this newest novel and knew little about it other than the fact that it made the Summer 2014 Kids' Indie Next List. I actually decided to read The Vanishing Season after an especially long day; I had been hoping for a light, relaxing read. That is not what I found. Instead, I was up all night, caught up in this beautiful, heartbreaking book.

I would classify The Vanishing Season as literary YA. It moves slowly, the focus on the characters rather than plot or action. When I told my friend I was up all night crying over this book and she asked me what happens in it, my first response was to say 'nothing.'While this isn't strictly true - there's murder, a ghost, and romance - The Vanishing Season is a quiet book that develops with precision. 

I think it's important to clarify that this is not a ghost story per se and it is definitely not horror. The narration does alternate between the main character, Maggie, and a ghost that is haunting her cellar, but the ghost's narration isn't meant to be scary. Instead, it adds to the mystery, which is driven primarily by a series of serial killings taking place throughout the novel.

One of my favorite things about this novel is the setting. It takes place on a Wisconsin peninsula, but, because so much of the Midwest is similar, it felt just like the area where I live. In the book, the tourists are referred to as fudgies, just like in Traverse City. The peninsula juts into Lake Michigan and Maggie spends much of her time trekking through the forest and exploring. Michigan and Wisconsin are interchangeable in the scenes described in the this novel, which probably had a positive effect on my reading experience. The setting, coupled with Maggie's personality, felt very familiar to me.

Speaking of Maggie's personality, it was... unique. Or maybe just different than I'm used to seeing in YA. Maggie is nice. Readers might argue that she's nice to a fault actually. And though I sometimes wanted her to give into the anger that I knew was simmering below the surface or to stand up for herself, I also respected her politeness. I'm not really sure how to describe it - or her - other than quintessentially Midwestern.

I'll be thinking about The Vanishing Season for a very long time. It isn't your normal YA read; it likely won't conform to your expectations. It will leave your with an aching heart and a tear stained face. But, trust me, it's worth it.



  1. I'm so happy that you love it! That's the book that I choose when I won the summer challenge and I haven't read it yet. (Less than 2 weeks before the semester is over!) But with your review, I'll now move it at the top of my TBR.

    One of my first YA read was Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson. That's why I choose The Vanishing Season. I read it nearly 10 years ago (I can remember where I was!) and I totally loved it. Maybe I'll read it again soon.

  2. I have been going back and forth about this book so many times! I've heard so many mixed reviews but yours is one that makes me want to put it back into my wish list!


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