The Girl Who Wasn’t There

Penny Joelson. Sourcebooks Fire, $10.99 paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9885-2
Joelson (I Have No Secrets) draws on her experience with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome in the story of 15-year-old Kasia Novak. After a bout of tonsillitis leaves her with ME/CFS, Kasia is unable to walk more than a few feet at a time. Stuck in her room for months, she watches the world outside her window. After she sees a girl pushed into a car against her will, and another girl, Reema, watching from the window opposite hers, Kasia investigates, enlisting neighbor Mrs. Gayatri for information on their English town’s neighbors. Kasia’s probe intensifies when she meets Mrs. Gayatri’s inquisitive grandson, Navin, who is intent on helping Kasia get better and finding out why no one knows about the girls whom Kasia sees. Joelson (I Have No Secrets) tackles complex issues of modern-day human trafficking, yet a didactic tone and a focus on Kasia’s experience at the expense of the other girls’ overwhelms the story. With a healing garden, watchers in the windows, and individuals hidden away, echoes of The Secret Garden and Rear Window are woven into Kasia’s and Reema’s alternating first-person narratives. Joelson excels in painting the atmosphere of Kasia’s warm, loving home with her Polish immigrant family while sensitively portraying her struggle with classmates who question her illness. Ages 14–up. Agent: Juliette Clark, Egmont UK. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Children's
Book - 978-1-4926-9886-9
Book - 978-1-4926-9887-6
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