17 & Gone
By Nova Ren Suma
Publication date: March 21, 2013
Dutton Juvenile, 354 pages
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.
With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.
— Goodreads.com description
OH MY GOSH. Nova Ren Suma’s 17 & Gone is scary and sad creepy and psychologically disturbing and so, so surprising.
How surprising? Oh, I’m not telling you, because I didn’t see it coming, and I don’t want you to either.
This is the type of book that you don’t want to read before bed because it’s creepy enough to give you nightmares…but it’s also so good that you can’t really get yourself to put it down.
Beyond the surprises and the mystery, though, I think there is a very striking message here about the many girls who go missing. These poor girls’ stories were alarming to read and felt like punch in the gut. Both in terms of awareness and in terms of prevention, I think this book could have a very strong impact.
Has anyone else read any Nova Ren Suma books? I haven’t, but I was very impressed with her writing and would love to read more — recommendations welcome! Check out my guest post from her below to learn more.
By Nova Ren Suma
Last year, when I was deep into writing 17 & Gone, I discovered an exciting new distraction and way to collect images that fascinated me: Pinterest. What started off as maybe one more thing to keep me from writing turned into a great source of inspiration, and my 17 & Gone inspiration board was born. I’d often write with the images up on my screen, staring at them in pauses between paragraphs. On each stop on this blog tour I’m highlighting one of the photos that spoke to me and helped me find my way through the darkness of writing this book.
I’m completely obsessed with the foreboding fiery blur in this photo by Laura Lydia. When I think of fire, the character from 17 & Gone that comes to mind first is Fiona Burke, my narrator’s long-ago babysitter who ran away from home—and though she was never seen since, still haunts Lauren to this day. The photo fits with Lauren’s memories of her, such as this one, when Fiona’s playing around with a Bic lighter:
She flicked it and brought up a tiny flame that matched the dyed sections of her hair. The color was indistinguishable up close, so for a moment it seemed her whole head had caught fire.
“God! What do you think I am, a monster?” she asked.
— From 17 & Gone, page 112
What I love about Laura Lydia’s image is how little we know for sure, and how much we can imagine. It could be an innocent game, or it could be something more sinister. At any second the moment could turn and surprise, even horrify, you. Just like Fiona.
For spotlights on more images from my 17 & Gone inspiration board on Pinterest, keep following this blog tour!
Next up: Monday, 3/25: The Story Siren