The Girl Who Wasn't There ISBN: 9781407138909
Published by Scholastic Press, 2014
Maisie has had a tough time of late. Her friends at school are friends no longer, and she feels very much to blame. So when her dad gets a new job as caretaker at Nightingale School and they and her older sister Clem have to move to a house on site, she is tremendously pleased. She even likes the old house they move into, while Clem is anti everything new that is happening and resents having to move from their old house. We soon learn that Maisie and Clem's mother died when they were very young - Maisie only three - and while Maisie doesn't remember much about her, she treasures a book that their mother left for her and Clem, a book which gives them good advice about growing up and assures them of her love. This book is a running theme throughout the novel, and the chapter headings are her words, a device which really makes her central to the story. Clem is something else! Sarcastic and downright rude at times, she wants nothing to do with Maisie, who, at 13, seems very young to her 19 year old sister. Dad handles his elder and difficult daughter well, but it is obvious that it is he and Maisie who are closest. After the move to the house at Nightingale School, Maisie longs to make good friends, but her experiences at her last school have made it difficult. When she finally meets Kat, she feels she has a friend at last, but who is this girl, and why does no one else in the school seem to know or even see her? This is a ghost story, but one that is also realistic in the two girls' relationship. It also has a considerable and unexpected twist at the end which is a huge coincidence, but under the circumstances, acceptable. We find out at the end just why Maisie was made so miserable at her old school, and she and Kat are able to help each other resolve their problems. Even Clem becomes more human! This is a great page-turner, and girls will love it while at the same time learning about how two girls can respond to the death of their mother and to the book she has left for them.