Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Module 9 Mystery: The Night my Sister Went Missing

The Night My Sister Went Missing

Bibliographic Information
Plum-Ucci, C. (2006). The night my sister went missing. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc.

What begins as a typical night on the beach for Kurt and his group of teenage friends, turns into a nightmare.  One minute they're all hanging out on the old pier, talking and having fun, but the next someone starts passing around a small handgun that was brought to the party.  Suddenly a shot- or was it a firework?- is heard, and Kurt's sister, disappears over the edge of the pier into the rough surf.  Kurt spends the rest of his night hanging out at the police station, waiting on his parents to get back in town, and eavesdropping on all the locals who stop by to give their testimony.  

At first it seems pretty clear that their friend Stacy had something to do with the tragedy.  Some people think she pulled the trigger in a fit of jealousy, others think the gun going off was an accident, but almost everyone agrees that the gun belongs to Stacy.  As Kurt listens, he learns things about his friends that he hadn't seen before.  With his eyes wide open, Kurt begins to gain understanding about the difference between the public persona of his friends and the struggles that some of them were hiding.  He also starts to realize that what he wants out of life may not match the plans he's made with his parents.  Now if only his sister, Casey, is found and she's okay, Kurt is ready to make some honest decisions about his life.  Will all of his friends be able to do the same? 

This is a good little mystery with a lot of character development mixed in.  The reader has a unique perspective through Kurt listening to his friends' testimony.  We see his reactions to all the revelations at the police station, and we watch him change and grow as he starts to understand how little he really knew his 'friends.'  It is very interesting to see how all these events work together to help Kurt grow up, seemingly overnight.  Of course, as more and more clues come to light, the story keeps readers intrigued with twists and turns that seem unrelated at first.  I think that middle and high school students will enjoy this book because it is a mystery that will keep you guessing and invested in the story right up to the end. 

A shot rings out at a beach party.  A girl falls backward- or dives forward- into the water and disappears.  Her older brother, Kurt, remains in the police station all night anxious for word and spying on those who come to give their statements.  The thread running through the speculations and accusations is Stacy Kearny, a poor little rich girl, whose explosive family secrets make her a prime suspect in the shooting.  Plum-Ucci returns to a familiar topic- a young missing person and the questions raised by the disappearance- to explore class prejudice, teen cruelty, and loyalty between friends.  There's no doubt Plum-Ucci can tell a heck of a story.  But there are chink's in the narrative's armor:  characters tend to sound the same, and the one-way mirror in the station that enables Kurt to spy on the witnesses sticks out like the device that it is.  Still, readers will be turning pages as new information is dispensed in each chapter, moving and changing the story in unexpected ways.  They'll race to the ending and won't guess it until they get there. 

Review Reference
Cooper, I. (2006, October 15). [Review of The Night My Sister Went Missing, by 
     C. Plum-Ucci]. Booklist. Retrieved from

Library Use
~ This would be a great book to read and discuss, focusing on how the events affect the characters in different ways and how those characters change throughout the story.
~ It could also be used in a Mystery display or in a lesson about the various elements found in mysteries

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