A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lauren Oliver's Vanishing Girls is a mystery with mature content, including drinking and drug use, strong language (including variations of "s--t" and "f--k"), and some steamy make-out scenes. There's also a really bad car accident, a missing child, and a plot line about adults trading in sexual pictures of underage teens. Nick may not always make smart choices, but she's loyal to her sister and goes to great -- even dangerous -- lengths to try to protect her. There's a valuable message here about what happens when you try to hold on to negative emotions and continue acting as if things are OK.
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What's the story?
Sisters Dara and Nick grew up close, always palling around with their neighbor Parker. But their parents divorced when they were teens, and Dara got wild while Nick remained the (mostly) good girl. Nick doesn't remember how she crashed the car, which left Dara scarred and not speaking to her sister, but this summer, now that they're living under the same roof, she hopes to win her back. But as the summer heats up, she stumbles into her sister's secret life, learns how it might be connected to a missing local girl, and discovers some big things she's been unable to admit to herself.
Is it any good?
Teens may find VANISHING GIRLS a little hard to get into. Author Lauren Oliver reveals the story from both sisters' perspectives, and she includes flashbacks, diary entries, local news articles, and emails between the girls' parents and their psychiatrist, and her nonlinear storytelling style takes some getting used to. Once the mystery picks up -- and Nick starts to figure out what her sister has gotten mixed up in and how 9-year-old Madeline Snow might be involved -- readers will race toward the conclusion. And, while the big-twist ending may be a bit far-fetched, it's certainly fun. Readers will enjoying reading the book again, once they -- and Nick -- know the truth behind the sisters' story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the risks of posting sexy pictures online, as well as about cybercrime and tactics adults use to prey on teens. When should you talk to your kid about using social sites and apps responsibly?
Were you surprised by the twists and turns, or did you find them predictable? At what point did you begin piecing together what actually happened?
Nick's psychiatrist thinks she doesn't express her negative emotions enough and that this is the cause of some serious trouble. What are some healthy ways to express feelings?
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