________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 19 . . . . May 16, 2008

cover

Forget Me Not.

Anne Cassidy.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2008.
236 pp., pbk., $10.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99741-6.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Joan Marshall.

**** /4

excerpt: 

Terri stared at the envelope, angry now. Why couldn't people leave her alone? She half thought she'd drive off, leave the woman standing with her stupid envelope. She took it, closed the window, waited for the woman to step back and drove off.

Once she was out of the village she kept driving, all the way to her parents' house. Stella was there and she was longing to see her, to hug her, to play games with her. She'd tell her she'd been to see a long-lost friend, which in a way was true. Ten minutes later, she pulled into a space outside the house. She saw the envelope and sighed. More relaxed now she picked it up and tore the top open. If the woman had been a journalist and this was some offer for her story then Terri would tear this letter into a hundred pieces.

But there was no letter. Just a photograph. A picture of Lizzie.

Her mouth went dry looking at it. Lizzie, not as she knew her, not as an eighteen-month toddler, but older, maybe two or three, playing in a sand castle. Her face was thinner, she was taller, she was standing up like a proper little person. It was Lizzie, though, she was sure. It was. She turned it over. There was a date. The year after Lizzie went missing. There was a handwritten message and a phone number.

If you want to talk about this ring me. Margaret Sloane.

 

           
In the best style of psychological thrillers, Anne Cassidy explores the creepy horror of child abduction, with layers of suspicion gently floating around all the possible suspects.

     Seventeen-year-old Stella, who has just finished her final high school exams, finds herself vaguely dissatisfied with her sweet, geeky boyfriend, and uneasy with her mother's drinking and the unreliable men she dates. Then a neighbourhood toddler goes missing, and Stella's mother, Terri, comes under scrutiny because of her involvement in a child abduction 20 years in the past when Lizzie, a baby for whom she was responsible, was kidnapped while she and her married lover slept in a park. As Terri gradually reveals her past to Stella and the police, the prickles of doubt start to gnaw at Stella's previously calm life. Is her mother telling the truth and all the truth? Why does she have a photo of an unknown girl in the back of her transit pass? In the end, Stella discovers the secret her mother has been hiding for many years, and Terri goes to the police to tell her story.

     Cassidy cleverly slides between past and present. The dialogue is sharp and realistic, and although Stella's introspective thoughts help to clarify details and create suspicion, the actual action moves along well. As in all good mysteries, there are many possible suspects for both kidnappings.

     The astute older reader will connect Terri's past relationships with men and Stella's relationship with her boyfriend Robbie. This strong theme of the dichotomy between the sexual excitement of the predatory, teaser lover and the steadfast, honest love of the kind, but boring man pulls this mystery beyond the suspense level.

     This story takes place in Epping, England, with the gloomy, mysterious forest looming in the background. Most readers will be able to cope with the British slang and different vocabulary (mobile for cell phone, cooker for stove, and so on), although Stella "tutts" often, an expression which seems old-fashioned and critical for a teenager. Stella carries a mobile with which she texts - totally up-to-date - and tries to seduce Robbie but can't get beyond his childish underwear.  Robbie keeps a daily blog. Scenes from the past include Terri saving enough money from babysitting to buy a Walkman and tapes, and they emphasize Terri's family's strict Roman Catholicism.  Her real support came, though, from her agnostic grandfather.

     In terms of the actual present day mystery, it does seem odd that the police would not have immediately checked out the cable laying workers, and the tragic resolution of this case is indeed sad. However, it is the past, unsolved kidnapping that dominates this book. Terri's nerve-wracking decision to remain silent based on the life Lizzie has escaped from and the one she enjoyed is intriguing and will be debated by eager readers who will have no difficulty placing themselves in Terri's position.

     This excellent mystery should be in every high school collection.

Highly Recommended.

Joan Marshall is a Winnipeg, MB, bookseller who thankfully never lost any of the children she babysat.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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