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The Vanishing Season

Review

The Vanishing Season

The tiny town is shoved into the national spotlight, and everyone becomes more and more frightened for their safety, especially those who live in more isolated areas like Maggie, Pauline and Liam. But when Pauline goes to live with her aunt in Milwaukee until the Door County Killer is caught, Maggie must face everything she has ever tried to suppress, as it seems like something might actually blossom between Liam and herself.
 
But the search is still on for this killer, unseen, unheard, silent as a shadow, insidiously surrounding the town. Is it just one man? Or something more, as is hinted at by the intertwining narrative of a lost soul who is slowly piecing together why she remains on at Door Creek, seeing the history of the world in that place, trying to reconcile the mystery of life and what may possibly lie beyond?
 
I haven’t found myself caring for, rooting for, and connecting to a protagonist this much in a very long time.
 
The absolute standout aspect of THE VANISHING SEASON was, for me, how brilliantly written Maggie was. I haven’t found myself caring for, rooting for, and connecting to a protagonist this much in a very long time. Maggie is herself a brilliant girl, knowing so much more about life than she sometimes lets on. She has her flaws, but they actually strengthen her, making her even more enthralling to read. When she had her victories, I smiled and kept turning the page to see if it kept going. When she had losses, some of them completely unfair, I found myself shouting at the book, continuing to turn the page to see if something would happen to rectify this injustice. I commend Ms. Anderson for crafting such a vibrant, deeply intricate and thought-provoking character. The interludes by the lost soul were another strength --- Anderson’s language truly gets to soar, and the sentences float from the page to the most exquisite and poetic melody. They were an absolute joy to read. The romance between Maggie and Liam was also fantastic, so different from what you often find in other books, but completely realistic. I found myself rooting for what they had as well.
 
I would say the only shortcomings of the book would be that sometimes  parts of the story fell to the wayside, and the plotline involving the three main characters took up so much time and attention, it felt like the other components were forgotten details. I also felt like the storyline of the serial killer could have had a little more attention and could have been a little more fleshed out. I understand what Anderson was going for when she wrote it that way, but it sometimes bothered me that it wasn’t made to be a bigger deal at times, especially since (*spoiler alert*) it didn’t ever end up really having anything to do with the final outcomes of Maggie, Pauline and Liam’s plotline. The other thing that bothered me was Maggie and Pauline’s friendship. I would read and know Maggie’s thoughts, feelings and opinions, and it just didn’t make sense to me why she stayed friends with Pauline sometimes. But most of the time, it just gave me more incentive to root for Maggie, because I can imagine many teen readers having that same experience of seeing someone they know get everything they want when honestly, they don’t really deserve it (because honestly, Pauline was a bit of a child, had no direction and didn’t really ever seem to want anything. I didn’t have much investment in her and was actually quite glad when she left the story for a while when she moved to Milwaukee). But I know many teen readers will connect to hers and Maggie’s relationship because most of them will have an example they personally know, as would other older readers looking back on their own teenage years.
 
Overall, THE VANISHING SEASON is a novel with a spectacular protagonist and gorgeous language that will illuminate ideas about life, the human condition and the ethereal matters that lie beyond our reach, but that we always wonder about and analyze. I recommend this book for teens but also for college students, because some of Maggie’s thoughts and ideas are things I think people that age wouldn’t mind reading. It’s a great book, and I very much enjoyed it. I don’t think the title had the strongest connection to the story, but that is a minor complaint, because this book is a strong story, and I hope to have another novel by Jodi Lyn Anderson fall into my hands another time. 

Reviewed by Corinne Fox on July 7, 2014

The Vanishing Season
by Jodi Lynn Anderson

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2014
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0062003275
  • ISBN-13: 9780062003270