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Thirteen-year-old Bonnie off-handedly wishes she could go to the mall with her friends and not have to baby-sit her five-year-old half-brother, Matt. That is the day Matt vanishes.

The reader knows who takes Matt. It's his no-good father, Denny. Denny has never made the effort to see his son. Now he has decided to use Matt to gain the sympathy of Denny's wealthy brother-in-law. Denny hopes his brother-in-law will give him money to raise Matt --- money that Denny can then gamble with. So Denny steals the family dog, Pookie, and lures Matt into his car (even though Matt knows better than to go anywhere with strangers). After successfully using Matt's dog as bait, Denny heartlessly abandons the elderly terrier in a park.

Bonnie starts having the nightmares she suffered when her own father died. Her daytimes are also nightmares, as she and her mother grieve for Matt. Where is he? Who could have taken him? Their mother dismisses Matt's father, saying he never liked kids. Bonnie and her mother spend their time talking with the police and making up flyers displaying Matt and Pookie's photos.

Meanwhile, Denny informs Matt that his mother and sister have died in a car accident. He gives Matt piles of new toys and tells him that he will live with Denny from now on. Matt is lonely, bored, and miserable as he mourns his family.

An older couple finds Pookie at the park and takes him home. They miss the evening news, so they don't discover immediately that Matt's family wants Pookie. The police investigation would benefit from their information as well. As it is, the police have no clues and no suspects. Bonnie must struggle to hang on to hope as time passes.

Although I never felt that I truly knew any of the characters, I was pulled into the story when the plot took a shocking turn that is suspenseful and exciting. Don't start this book if you have something else you need to do. You simply won't be able to put it down beyond a certain point!

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on November 22, 2004

by Peg Kehret

  • Publication Date: November 22, 2004
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
  • ISBN-10: 0525472940
  • ISBN-13: 9780525472940