Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver is about Nick and Dara, sisters who are close in age. Until a major accident, that Nick has no memory of and one that leaves Dara scarred, the sisters were inseparable. The story, told from both their points of view, jumps back and forth before and after the accident. This helps the reader understand why the two are estranged.When they were children, Nick was always in charge and Dara tagged along. As they got older, a rift started forming. Nick remained the sensible one, but Dara became wild, longing for attention and the spotlight, always in trouble. The summer after the accident, Nick decides to swallow her pride and reach out to her sister, but Dara disappears. In the background there is another story, the disappearance of a young girl, allegedly abducted from a parking lot. Nick connects the two disappearances, going on a hunt for Dara. This leads her back to the night of the accident, evoking painful memories. Vanishing Girls is not Oliver’s best book, but it keeps the reader absorbed in the story.
Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall, is the better book. Samantha Kingston and her three best friends, rule the school with their better-than-you attitudes and stilettos. Friday, February 12 is like another Friday night, except Sam and her friends end up crashing their car. Sam’s life as she knows it is over. The next morning, when she wakes up in her bed, it is February 12—again! At first, Sam thinks it’s dream, but she soon comes to realize she is trapped in some sort of bizarre limbo as she relives the same day several times.Before I Fall is a blunt and a fierce look at high school social circles and the careless cruelties and bullying that occur on a daily basis. There are many multi-dimensional characters. The complex and careful plot, peels back layers of Sam's life, emphasizing life lessons without lecturing. Every page is captivating and satisfying.