Monday, April 12, 2010

They Never Came Back

By Caroline Cooney
Delacorte, 2010. 208 pgs. Juvenile/Young Adult fiction

When Cathy is accosted by a young man at her intensive language summer school, who claims she is his long-lost cousin Murielle, she doesn't know what to do. For a time the reader doesn't know what to do, either, though Cathy/Murielle's unwillingness or inability to make clear why she is Cathy and not Murielle is a big tipoff to what follows. In alternating chapters we learn how Murielle was left behind when her parents fled with millions of dollars in an investment scam and her aunt refused to deliver her to the airport. Cathy's life in foster care is the rest of the story, which is suspenseful and thought-provoking, even though it has quite a few "huh?" moments, like why the FBI was unable to cook up the same Internet scheme that one of Cathy's classmates uses to smoke out the couple. Caroline Cooney's books are reliably clean and exciting reading for older elementary and teenage readers. In this story they will wonder for awhile if Cathy is Murielle, and then wonder where her loyalties should lie. They Never Came Back, though not quite up to her best titles, should be a big hit.

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