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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Very Serious YA

17 & Gone - Nova Ren Suma

That title is a bit unfairly mocking, but true nonetheless. This is YA in the vein of Stephanie Kuehn, contemporary, thoughtful, not easy, not light.


There is a lot of confusion that results from reading 17 & Gone, up to nearly the end, because this is a book in which the reader doesn't really understand what is happening to the main character, and, as well, the main character doesn't really understand what is happening to the main character so we are brought into her confusion, the tenuousness of her reality, her inability to discern what is real and what is not real.


Nova Ren Suma approached her subject with respect - I didn't know anything about where this book would take me when I started it (as evidenced by my update post at page 100) and I think that is the best way to experience 17 & Gone. So, aside from saying that she was respectful, I will say no more.


But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the subject. Last week, on Book Riot, there was a post wherein the thesis was, basically, that the writer of the post needed a break from books about dead girls. (You can find the post here).


She says:


"Buuuuut… I’m kind of over it. I need a break from dead girls as entertainment; girls who are thrown away for the sake of mystery, intrigue, and drama. It’s part of a larger problem where women are seen as dispensable and the real action goes on with or without them. Their deaths (and lives) are just titillating blips that set the stage for the actual story. And I need a break from books where dead girls are passive plot devices to further the narratives of men, murderers, investigators, and society at large."


And I see her point, and this is a book about missing girls. Some of them are dead, some of them are not, but they are all missing, and they are all, in a sense, haunting our main character. I never got the sense that Nova Ren Suma felt that her girls - these girls - were dispensable, but they were, to some degree, plot devices to further the narrative of the main character, who is, herself, a 17-year-old girl. A 17-year-old girl who becomes painfully aware, and shocked, about the number of other 17-year-old girls who are 17 and Gone.


Gone Girls.


"If I counted all the girls who ran away at the age of 17, starting with girls who lived close to me and then casting my net wider, spreading out along the East Coast in ever-growing circles, then adding girls who may have met more sinister fates, who didn’t go by choice, whose bodies still had not been found, I’d be nowhere. There’d simply be too many. Which terrified me."


Anyway, not an easy book, but a good one. Not a light book, but a satisfying one. You will find no werewolves, no love triangles, no preternaturally hot guys, no gossip girls, no rich kids mourning their affluenza. You'll find real life, in its messy, sometimes painful, reality.