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BOOK REVIEW: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

| 6 March 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

HarperCollins
March 2015
Paperback, £6.55
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli

8.5/10

22465597

How could my Dara, Little Egg, Nosebutton, who used to wrap her arms around my shoulders and stand on my toes so we could pretend to be one person as we staggered around the living room, have turned into someone who used the word fuckable, someone I barely knew, someone I feared, even?

It’s a strange relationship the one between sisters. You’re the best of friends your entire lives, until suddenly you’re not. One of you gets left behind, one day, whilst the other grows up too quickly. Suddenly, the one person you’ve known your entire life better than you’ve known yourself is a complete stranger, and you just don’t know her anymore. It sounds like a horror story, but it’s true: one day, your sister will grow up, that close relationship will stretch and snap until you’re only sisters but maybe not really friends. But you can fix it. There’s something you can do. Just because you (or she) have grown up, it doesn’t mean you cannot be best friends any longer. After all, who knows you best?

Nick and Dara were like that: two sides of the same coin, best friends, always at each other’s side… until they weren’t. Until Dara grew up faster than she was supposed to, surpassing Nick. Until Dara started to party and meet boys late at night and go home smelling of alcohol, and Nick remained the ‘good daughter’, never breaking the rules.

Even when she started to get in trouble, even when I found cigarettes stubbed out on her windowsill or little plastic bags filled with unidentifiable pills stashed beneath the pencil cup on her desk, I didn’t tell. 

Yet, there is always that sense of protection, of having to be there and save your sister from the big bad world. So Nick never told, and Dara continued to party and live her life, protected by her sister in the only way Nick knew how.

When Nick and Dara are in a car accident, their bond shatters. They are no longer sisters. They don’t talk. Dara hides away and Nick goes to stay with their father. Even though they’re both sorry, neither of them can take the first step to fixing their relationship and the longer they leave it, the worse things get between them.

Don’t ask me how I know. I just do. If you don’t understand that, I guess you’ve never had a sister.

Lauren Oliver describes the real, raw bond between two sisters who had it all and lost it all. Anyone with a sibling has been there: you compete with them, you try to one-up them, one of you has to win in the end. There is that incessant jealousy between you but there is also that fierce, loyal protectiveness. If someone hurts your sibling, you’re ready to tear their head off because they’re your sibling. If anyone is going to hurt them, it’s going to be you. How dare they hurt them? Vanishing Girls paints a picture of a bond that breaks and is left to rot until it is irreparable – and that brings a rich sadness to this book.

As if we didn’t spend practically our whole lives sneaking into each other’s rooms to sleep in the same bed, whisper about our crushes, watch moon-patterns on the ceiling and try to pick out different shapes. As if we didn’t once cut our fingers and make them bleed together so we’d be bonded forever, so we’d be made not just of the same genes but of each other. As if we didn’t always swear that we’d live together even after college, the Two Musketeers, the Dynamic Duo, Light and Dark, two sides of the same cookie.

As always, Oliver’s beautiful, lyrical writing sets the scene (and the emotions) and before you know it, you’re racing through the book, heart pounding, desperate to find out what happens next. I found myself relating to Dara and Nick’s past and present relationship on a personal level as I, too, have a younger sister. She, like Dara, was the partier, the popular one, whilst I was (and am) the ‘good daughter’, the one that never caused any problems. Where Dara and Nick’s relationship split, mine and my sister’s also took a rocky path but we managed to patch it up, move on and forgive each other. Although we aren’t joined at the hip as we once were, she knows she can rely on me and I know she will always be there if I need her. We are sisters, and there is nothing in the world that can break that bond.

I highly recommend Vanishing Girls to fans of Oliver’s first novel, Before I Fall. Both books have a rich, heavy atmosphere and will set your pulse racing after only a couple of pages.

Aly Locatelli

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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