April 25, 2013
Seventeen-year-old Jen is fresh from junior year of high school and a break-up with her boyfriend. A fun-filled summer now awaits her-working at her Grandmother’s bed and breakfast. Grandma Kay’s Schoenhaus lies among the vineyards of Missouri (who knew Missouri was know for its wine?), and will give Jen a much-needed break. She’s even on board to play a role in the murder mystery weekend at the B & B, until she learns it may include solving a real-life mystery- her mother’s disappearance!
Jen’s mother abandoned her and her father fifteen years ago. Periodically receiving gifts and letters from her absent mother, the contact came to a halt a few years ago. Jen has lived her entire life without a mother, holding on to a few fleeting memories while trying to move on with her life. Now Grandma Kay suspects Ellen didn’t really leave at all. She thinks she was murdered! Could it be true? Could her mother really have been dead all these years? Then who’s been sending the presents? And even more frightening, who could have killed her?
All these questions are answered in this delightful tale. I am a die-hard mystery fanatic and I suspect the author is as well. Rarely do you find a well-crafted mystery (without some kind of supernatural beings) in young adult novels. The teen characters are realistically portrayed. The plot is engaging. From the moment I picked it up, this book didn’t leave my hands. Okay, maybe I had to go to the bathroom once, but that’s it! I found myself literally on the edge of my seat, not able to read the pages fast enough to reach the satisfying climax of this novel. Suspect is a great way to introduce teens to the wonderful world of murder and mayhem every mystery lover craves. I can only anticipate future winners from Ms. Nitz.
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Clair has relocated to Amherst, MA with her father after her mother’s suicide and the disappearance of her best friend Richy. Plagued by sadness and what ifs, Clair finds solace in Emily Dickinson. Her poetry, her home, her life, even her dress become soothing balms to Clair’s hurt.
Clair breaks into the Emily Dickinson house and steals her dress. With the help of her less-than-appropriately behaved student teacher, Tate, Clair attempts to right some wrongs. Will she discover what really happened to Richy? Will she come to terms with her mother’s death? Will Emily’s dress be returned in one piece? You’ll have to find out for yourself.
Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things is a lyrical gem. Kathryn Burak strikes the perfect tone between mystery and self-discovery. Never a fan of Dickinson or poetry myself, I am now off to get acquainted with Emily and her works.
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