Original publish date: 18 August 2014
The end of an era that is the high school experience and the end of a long friendship. And the catalyst for the fight? What else would it be if not a girl in this hormone addled time? For Jason and Logan, their mutual female friend Regan is the spark that ends in a physical altercation and Logan’s disappearance from town. David Bell’s The Forgotten Girl explores the relationships and secrets that undoubtedly shape our everyday lives and hold much significance.
27 years after the graduation night fight that estranged Jason and Logan, Jason and his wife Nora move back to his Ohio hometown from the Big Apple of New York City. Having gotten their marriage on the right track, their lives are upended when Jason’s younger, alcoholic sister Hayden shows up unannounced at their door with her 17 year old daughter Sierra. Hayden has sobered up and has some undisclosed business that she says she needs to attend to in town. After a brief discussion with her brother, it’s agreed that Sierra will stay with them for the two days she’ll be gone, but Jason is rather skeptical of the business she’s taking care of and if she’ll actually come back for her daughter.
When Sierra receives a startling text from her mother after a day, she becomes concerned that something has happened to her and pleads with Jason to involve the police. Jason is reluctant and thinks they should wait the 48 hours Hayden said she’ll need. But when Sierra takes matters into her own hands to find her mother and finds her abandoned car, keys locked inside and blood smeared on the back seat, a serious search for Hayden commences. During the search for Hayden, the cadaver dogs unearth skeletal remains. Remains that dredge up an unpleasant past for Jason, Regan, and Hayden and Jason is determined to understand the truth.
The story reinforces the concept that people aren’t always who you think they are, either through life experiences that have changed them or in your own perspective of them. Suspense is built through the use of fast-pacing, which is assisted by the short chapters that keep you turning the page to see what would happen next. While I enjoyed the shorter chapters, I often felt as if it broke at an awkward part of the series of events. Yes, leaving it a little cliffhanger-y helps with the suspense and keeps you reading (which I often did), but when you do have to take a break and come back to the book, it felt a bit strange to feel more “in the groove of the story” to go back and reread the last few paragraphs of the last chapter. It’s not a huge thing, but it was something that I’ve not experienced in a while and it, admittedly, frustrated me.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.