June 28 – July 5, 2021
Primarily, told backwards (from Day 14 to the day the second girl in Cooley Ridge goes missing), All the Missing girls offers a suspenseful and psychologically thrilling ride through the complicated history of a group of teens whose pasts may not be all that they seem.
Some people go missing on purpose, and some don’t have a say.
Three girls have disappeared – two literally vanish and one elects to abandon a painful past for a more stable, predictable, secure life. Throughout All the Missing Girls, I was constantly questioning whether the 2 missing girls had done so intentionally, wondering if it was all some Gone-Girl-style ruse. And then more theories vied for plausibility as the plot thickened.
Unraveling the complex history of Corinne, Tyler, Daniel and Nic, author Megan Miranda unfolds the story backwards – from day 14 of Annalise’s disappearance to the day the girl seemingly walked into the woods and vanished. While the reverse storytelling adds foreshadowing unavailable from a chronological sequence, I question whether the book would be as good without that device (which is not all that groundbreaking). I figured out a major plot twist too early on, so that was a bit unsatisfying, but to be fair, I could have never put together many of the well-crafted details.
But… there’s also an unaddressed plot hole (lack of DNA testing on a key piece of evidence) that could’ve easily been explained in a number of ways. Memory loss drives a lot of the plot, and the story would not exist without varying degrees of amnesia, which I find to be another not-so-groundbreaking trope.
All of that aside, I adored the way narrator Nic’s psychology unfolded, and found the idea of leaving home – and leaving a part of yourself there in order to survive – deeply relatable. The following excerpt convinced me that I should read another Megan Miranda book some day, even if this particular one won’t be a long-cherished favorite of mine:
“There was a small part of me that was still childish, stubborn in her hope, thinking I could somehow have everything. … That I could be all the versions of me, stacked inside one another, and find someone who would want them all. But that’s childhood. Before you realize that every step is a choice. That something must be given up for something to be gained. Everything on a scale, a weighing of desires, an ordering of which you want more—and what you’d be willing to give for it.”–All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
It checks the contemporary mystery box, and I’ll read Miranda again for sure.