Every Missing Piece

every missing piece melanie conklin
Maddy Gaines sees danger everywhere she looks: at the bus stop, around the roller rink, in the woods, and (especially) by the ocean. When Maddy meets a mysterious boy setting booby traps in the North Carolina woods, she suspects the worst.
Maddy is certain she's found Billy Holcomb-the boy who went missing in the fall. Except, maybe it's not him. It's been six months since he disappeared. And who will believe her anyway? Definitely not her mom or her stepdad . . . or the chief of police.
As Maddy tries to uncover the truth about Billy Holcomb, ghosts from her own past surface, her best friend starts to slip away, and Maddy's world tilts once again. Can she put the pieces of her life back together, even if some of them are lost forever?
---from the  publisher
288 pages                                    978-1368048958                          Ages 8-12
Keywords:  mystery, missing person,  friends, friendship, change, family, resilience, grief, trauma, bullying, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old

************ Maddy is anxious about safety, especially since the death of her father several years previously. She has a routine of checking things every morning and evening, and is always on the alert. She has contacted the police department so many times that she has been told she is like the "boy who cried wolf" and told she needs to stop. Her mother has remarried, and Stan is a nice enough guy, but Maddy just doesn't connect with him. She has a good friend, Cress, and also a nemesis, Diesel Jessup, who used to be her friend but now threatens her any time she comes near his family's property.

After seeing on the news that a boy named Billy is missing from a nearby community, Maddy's anxiety ramps up, and when there is a new boy at her school, Eric, she becomes obsessed with the fact that he is Billy. She takes his family a pie, and things don't seem right. Billy and a woman live in a trailer belonging to Diesel's dad, and there are a lot of red flags. Maddy tells Cress about this, and Cress agrees. The girls do their investigations without telling adults, because of Maddy's previous difficulties with the police. Eventually, there is some information that comes to light about Eric's situation, and Maddy's family steps in to help. Can Maddy come to terms with her new life when confronted with someone else's difficulties?

Strengths: This is on trend for middle grade literature featuring children who are overcoming trauma and grief in their family situations. Maddy has supportive teachers, parents, and friends, and her concern for others is touching. Eric's story moves quickly from being a suspect idea only in Maddy's head to being frighteningly real. Her issues with Diesel reflect the all too common middle school friend drama. I especially liked Stan's attempts to bond with Maddy.

Weaknesses: Therapy is mentioned, but Maddy is not portrayed as attending, which is too bad. She clearly needs to work through several issues.

What I really think: Great for fans of lyrical, "heartprint" novels like King's The Year We Fell From Space, Humphrey's Quack, Telgemeier's Guts, and LeGrand's Some Kind of Happiness.

Recommended by Karen Yingling, Librarian, Ohio USA

See more of her recommendations at: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com

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