Published by O'Brien Press on October 7th 2013
Ellen and Maggie have been best friends for as long as they can remember - sharing clothes, passions and secrets. But now Ellen's now there and Maggie's left alone. Looking back over the events before Ellen's disappearance, Maggie tries to make sense of her friend's actions. At school and at home, she feels no one understands what she is going through - except maybe Liam, the boy next door who has always had feelings for Ellen.
Can Maggie get used to missing Ellen?
MISSING ELLEN is told through flashbacks and diary entries of a young girl called Maggie who’s dealing with the absence of her best friend Ellen in her life. It’s unknown until the final paragraphs where Ellen is but with each page-turn the niggling spark of worry in your gut grows ever more pronounced.
This book is the reason why I adore contemporary young adult fiction. Stripped of themes of oppressive governments, vampires and mythical creatures we are left simply with the pure emotion and uncertainty of growing up and embracing the future you’re destined for.
MISSING ELLEN brought me right back to the days of blue sweaters, backpacks and quadratic equations and through Mac a’ Bháird’s precise imagery I could clearly hear the locker doors slamming and the high pitched chatter as Maggie and Ellen wandered down the hall to class. Those days when friendship was the single most important aspect in a young girl’s life, the giddiness of that unforgettable bond and the ever present chest-clenching fear that your partner in crime would grow up too quickly and leave you behind.
Mac a’ Bháird is a stunning writer and her coming of age tale is both hopeful and poignant. Maggie’s voice is realistic and age appropriate and the reader is swept up on her journey with her as she works through her sadness recorded in her diary entries to Ellen and her memories of her last school year with her friend.
Themes of marital break-up, depression, teenage rebellion are all handled with great care and sensitivity. The feeling of helplessness that accompanies adolescence as one is caught between the comfort of childhood and the anxiety of impending adulthood is relayed beautifully through Maggie’s prose. Her diary entries are tinged with emotions as varying as pity, fear, anger and indignation as she works through the cycles of grief with fleeting glimpses of hope, happiness and wonder as her viewpoint on past events evolves and becomes coherent.
MISSING ELLEN is a wonderful novel with characters so recognisable you can’t help but care for, a story that is both captivating and affecting and one that you will remember long after you close its covers. Simply gorgeous.