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Every Missing Piece: 07/18/20

Every Missing Piece

Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin is a middle grade novel set in North Carolina. Since she was eight, Maddy Gaines has been obsessed with safety. That was the year her father died and her life turned upside down.

She and her mother and step-father live in a two bedroom house. She's been in a turf war with Diesel, who used to let her swim in his backyard pond. She still goes over there to explore the long forgotten cemetery that's nestled between homes in the suburb that has grown up around it. On her most recent trip she meets a boy she's sure is the kidnapped Billy Holcomb, whose story has been on the news.

Maddy is a bit like the boy cried wolf, having called the police for one too many things. Before she calls about the boy calling himself Eric, she decides she needs to investigate. In her investigation she learns more about her anxiety, bonds more with her stepfather, and mends old friendships.

Maddy's story also sits on the road narrative spectrum. Maddy and her friends are all marginalized travelers (66). First because they are all minors and are restricted to their own neighborhood and where they can get to on their bikes. For Maddy it's also her anxiety taking away some of her agency. For Eric, it's the threat of being found. For Diesel, it's the impossible burden of holding onto adult secrets.

Their destination is uhoria — meaning a place outside of time (CC). For Maddy, it's getting back to the comfort and self confidence she felt before her father died. For Eric it's a time in the future when he and his mother can be safe. For Diesel it's a time when he and Maddy can be friends again as he's unaware of the grudge she's holding or the fact that his brothers have been actively sabotaging their friendship.

The route is the cornfield (FF). Or rather, it's the cornfield's other form, the tkaronto, or "place where trees stand in water." In Every Missing Piece, the tkaronto is the cemetery and forest around Diesel's pond. It is the place that all the characters go to or flee from. It's the catalyst for change.

All together, Every Missing Piece is the tale of marginalized travelers (children) going to uhoria (times where they will feel safer) via the cornfield (aka Diesel Jessup's pond) (66CCFF).

Five stars

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