“Missing” Catherine MacPhail

Bloomsbury, 2000. Hardcover. 191 pp.

Maxine feels like she’s going crazy. Her older brother, Derek, ran away from home and has been missing for 10 months. Sweeney, the school bully, had made his life, and others, into a living hell, never getting the punishment he deserved. Not knowing what happened to him has torn her family apart, and she feels guilty for wanting him to be dead so they would pay attention to her. When the police discover a body and her father identifies it as Derek, things seem to get worse. After the funeral, her parents seem to forget all about her and Maxie is left even more alone.

However, she’s not really on her own because Maxie feels like someone is watching her and starts to get strange phone calls from someone who says it’s Derek. Maxie has to keep telling herself that Derek is buried. Derek is dead. The voice insists he’s really alive, but won’t show himself to her. Maxie wonders if ghosts can come from beyond the grave. As if worrying about Derek and the strange phone calls wasn’t bad enough, Sweeney has decided she is going to become his next victim. Maxie doesn’t know where to turn or who she can confide in to get advice.

This is a quick and easy read for middle schoolers. The mystery of what happened to Derek, and what keeps happening to Maxie, will keep reluctant readers eager to find out what happens next.

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