Book Review: All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Read Dates:

June 28 – July 5, 2021

Star Rating:

3.5

TL;DR:

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.

Full Review:

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

Bottom line:

It checks the contemporary mystery box, and I’ll read Miranda again for sure.

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