You Must Not Miss

304p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316449779.
Gr 6 Up—Six months ago Margaret "Magpie" Lewis's life was pretty good: she had a best friend, a family, and a strong academic career. Then, in one day, it all falls apart. She is suddenly exiled by her friends and forgotten by her family. To combat her overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and neglect, Magpie starts writing in a yellow notebook and creates her sanctuary, a place called Near. It becomes so real to her that she actually dreams it into existence, accessed through a shed in her backyard. Now Magpie has a place where she is safe and loved and in control, a place she can have anything she wants—even if what she wants most is revenge. The story takes too long to get going; readers are a third of the way through before they enter Near with the protagonist. Also, the rules and consequences of Near seem arbitrary and contrived at times and never get fully established. Teens are told by Hither, Magpie's guide and advisor in Near, that there are consequences to her actions, but sometimes those consequences are as benign as a headache and other times it's implied that she loses a part of herself. These don't ultimately serve as a deterrent anyway. By the end, the protagonist seems to be on the verge of finding real friendship and even love, so her final revenge seems a little forced.
VERDICT Too many issues derail an otherwise interesting premise.

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