Not too long into Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, I suspected I was dealing with unreliable narrators. Then, as I read further and the plot began to remind me of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, I knew I was dealing with unreliable narrators. All that was left was to figure out who was lying, and who was telling the truth.
At its heart, Vanishing Girls is the story of two teenage sisters—Nicole (Nick) and Dara Warren—and their lives, their love for and frustrations with each other, and how they cope with their parents’ divorce and the aftermath of a devastating car accident. The relationship between Nick and Dara is complicated. They love each other and look out for each other, yet there is always an undercurrent of competition for attention from parents, friends, even Nick’s best friend—and Dara’s boyfriend before the accident—Parker.
As Nick moves back to her mom’s house, gets a summer job at the local amusement park, and begins trying to piece her relationship with Dara back together after the accident, the mystery of the missing girl Madeline Snow shakes the town of Somerville. Nick, Dara, and their mother are all sucked into the mystery and the news of the search for the young girl, who disappeared while in the care of her older sister.
Ultimately, Nick discovers the truth of what happened to Madeline after Dara also disappears on the night of her birthday dinner. The truth of the disappearance of both girls provides a twist that, admittedly, I did see coming—but my curiosity about how Oliver would unfold it all to the reader kept me reading.
The relationship between Nick and Dara was realistic, and it truly carried the story. As the predominant narrator, Nick possesses a strong narrative voice, of course aided by Oliver’s powerful prose.
Fans of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, and of course Oliver’s other works, are sure to enjoy this new release.