New Teen Book Review: Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork

I was blown away by this author’s last novel, so he had some pretty big shoes to fill. I have only read of his books and this new novel felt very different than the others. Marcelo in the Real World and Memory of Light both had serious internal growth occurring throughout the novel, Disappeared was not like this. Disappeared was as an external crime mystery, which I felt was not as wonderful as the previous novels I have read.

This novel presents the story of both Sara and Emiliano and it focuses on a short time of their lives. It addresses the horrifying crimes that take place near the Mexican border, even as the country attempts to rise above these tragic issues.

Four months ago, Sara’s best friend was taken and the police have been no help finding her. Sara attempts to use her job in the paper to continue to bring focus to the issues of missing girls and her missing friend. Sara receives a threat from an unknown source that demands her to stop writing about the missing girls and her best friend. Sara can’t let it go, even when her bosses ask her to. As Sara continues to dig, she puts many people in danger, especially her family. However, Sara’s values make it impossible for her to ignore the wrongs of those around her.

Emiliano, Sara’s brother, is a promising entrepreneur, who never really got over their father leaving them for America. He makes money selling local art over the border, which is legal. He had a rough past, but with the help of a local religious leader and a boy scout like group, he is attempting to rise in a positive drug-free legal way.  Emiliano has become obsessed with classmate, Perla. When he is given an offer by a local shady business man, Emiliano considers turning his back on his values. How can he do the right thing for Perla and for himself? Who’s respect is more important?

In the world where Saint Death exists, it is hard not to compare this book to that one. I tried not to, but Sedgewick knocked it out of the park, making it difficult for other authors. This book was a bit dry. It felt like a presentation of the facts, with very little emotion. I liked the promise of hope, of clinging to your country, but wanting to be part of making it better.


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