Book Title: Girl Last Seen
Author: Nina Laurin
REVIEWED BY: MARY
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense
Date Read: 06/09/17
Pub Date: 06/20/17
Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.
Olivia Shaw has been missing since last Tuesday. She was last seen outside the entrance of her elementary school in Hunts Point wearing a white spring jacket, blue jeans, and pink boots.
I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can’t bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to thirteen years ago.
If you have any knowledge of Olivia Shaw’s whereabouts or any relevant information, please contact…
I’ve spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, the right look, the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.
Whoever stole me was never found. But since I was taken, there hasn’t been another girl.
And now there is.
Sometimes I read a book that I just cannot put down until I have finished it. When this happens I know pretty quickly and I prepare my cozy reading area. I furnish it with pillows and blankets, chocolate, water and my drink of choice. I get giddy like a kid going to a slumber party. I know I’ll be transported to a different world for the next few hours and I relish in that excitement. I got to start my summer with that thrilling sense of anticipation. I knew after reading the Prologue of GIRL LAST SEEN, I wouldn’t be putting it down until I was finished reading. I was certain I was in for a dark, twisty, suspenseful ride, so I prepared my cozy corner and buckled up.
Ella was ten years old when she disappeared. She was missing for 3 years before being discovered by police wandering on the side of the road in the rain. At 13 years old, after having suffered at the hands of her captor in a dank basement for 3 long years, Ella had retreated so far inside herself to survive that she barely had an identity left. In the wake of her release and recovery, the people caring for this broken survivor decided that changing her identity was in her best interest. A new name would serve as a fresh, protective shell to hide her from her captor and the public that would want to feast on her tragic story like vultures, allow her a fresh start. After all, everyone kept reminding her how lucky she was to be alive, how lucky she was to have survived. Ella Santos was the 10 year old girl who went missing, the girl that endured 3 years of hell. Lainey Moreno was the name they gave the girl that emerged, the girl that bore her scars, both physical and emotional, the girl that had to keep moving forward because she had survived.
The man that took Ella Santos was never found. In the ten years since her time in that basement, Lainey has survived. She hasn’t healed and built a life, she has survived, mostly with the help of prescription medication to dull the pain and panic attacks. Lainey lives a hazy life, that is lonesome and walled off from most people. She has interactions only with the people she has to in order to hold down a job and rent an apartment. Her closest friend is her drug dealer because he provides the means to dull the jagged edges of her existence. No one knows that she was the girl that survived three years in captivity. Lainey Moreno is just another borderline junkie that lives in a heinous neighborhood. No one knows that Lainey Moreno is the girl that the police and doctors said was so lucky to have survived. And Lainey has no intention of ever letting anyone find out that she is that girl.
Now, ten years later, another girl has disappeared. Her name is Olivia Shaw, she is ten years old, and she was last seen outside of her elementary school wearing a white spring jacket and pink boots. Lainey sees the Missing Person poster with Olivia’s picture on it and her world, one that is held together with tape and glue, begins to unravel. Lainey looks into the face of Olivia Shaw and sees herself, a ten year old girl, an innocent child, with dark curly hair and brown skin and she knows in her bones that the same man that took her 13 years ago has taken this girl. Now she has to choose, whether to revisit the past she tries so hard to escape with pills and seclusion to save this little girl from becoming as tarnished as she is, or continue on and leave Olivia Shaw’s fate in the hands of the same people that never found her when she was missing for 3 years.
This debut novel is a gritty thriller with dark twists you won’t see coming. Lainey is an unreliable narrator, as well as a tortured soul who has a resilience she is unaware of for whom my heart broke over and over. The characters that surround her are well-developed and complex evoking feelings of love and hate in the same sentence. The heart breaking, heart-racing journey that they go on together will keep you guessing to the nail-biting end.
GIRL LAST SEEN is a perfect summer read that pairs well with Dreaming Tree cabernet and a cozy reading corner where you will stay up all night devouring this 4 star thriller.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to review it here on the blog.