cover image The September Sisters

The September Sisters

Jillian Cantor, . . HarperTeen, $16.99 (361pp) ISBN 978-0-06-168648-1

In her memorable debut novel, Cantor follows a family so devastated by the disappearance of a daughter that it never fully recovers. One summer morning, Abby, 12, and her parents wake to find Abby's 10-year-old sister Becky missing, with no clues about who took her or why. In the days that follow, all three undergo the scrutiny of their suspicious community and baffled police, and as the months pass, Abby's mother spirals into a detached depression as her father becomes consumed with searching for a daughter he refuses to believe is dead. Abby, ostracized at school, finds a quiet, supportive friendship with Tommy, a neighboring teenager, which develops into a tentative first love. The recurring intrusion of Abby's memories of her sister and her wide range of emotions (ranging from resentment and uselessness to heartache) make the story startlingly real. (“It began to dawn on me that dead was better than missing, vanished, disappeared. At least dead was final.”) Cantor offers no happy ending, but a poignant final scene shows that, despite distance and circumstance, Abby remains connected to her sister. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)