The Girl in the Headlines

Sourcebooks/Fire. Jul. 2021. 352p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781728225210.
Gr 7 Up–Andi has no memory of what happened on the night of her 18th birthday when she wakes up the next morning in an unfamiliar motel room, covered in blood. She wanders into the lobby, hoping for some information about how she got there. Instead of clarity, she sees a sensational news story about her family: Her parents were brutally assaulted in their home, her younger brother is missing, and she is the number one suspect in the crimes. With the conveniently helpful motel clerk, mixed-race Nate, as her only ally, Andi, who has olive skin, sets out to find her brother, clear her name, and solve the mystery of her past that may be at the heart of the tragedy. Jayne renders Andi’s insecurity about what she’d believed to be her perfect family alongside Nate’s own abandonment issues, and attempts to subvert stereotypes of “neglected kids” in the process. But it’s never clear why Nate decides to help Andi, and his near-absence from the final third of the novel only exacerbates this confusion. Readers hoping for a heartfelt portrayal of the impacts of childhood traumas will be left wanting more.
VERDICT A fast-paced thriller that is driven more by plot than character. Recommended for very large collections.

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