Wednesday, August 25, 2010

REVIEW: The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, by Helen Grant

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, by Helen Grant. Published 2010 by Bantam Dell. Literary Fiction.

I read this book courtesy of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden tells the story of a series of disappearances in a small German town. The first girl to disappear, the titular Katharina, goes missing after a fair. The mystery throws the town into an upheaval as parents wait for the police to find the kidnapper- and, hopefully, Katharina. The story is told through the eyes of young Pia Kolvenbach, a middle-schooler who has become a pariah among her peers following the bizarre Advent-related death of her grandmother. But one of her classmates still wants to be her friend, fellow outcast "Stink Stefan," and together they start their own investigation into what happened to Katharina. In doing so, they uncover town secrets and do a little growing up, too.

I enjoyed reading Katharina Linden. I didn't love it, but it was a good page-turner mixed with a nice coming-of-age story. Pia is a plucky and likable heroine though I thought her home life was a little too dramatic and distracted from the missing-girl storyline a little bit too much. There's a passages involving Pia's trip to England and the martial woes of her parents which could be extracted to form an entirely separate book. The best parts for me were the parts about solving the mystery and exploring the town's checkered past.

A good read-alike for Katharina Linden would probably be last year's Mathilda Savitch; if you enjoyed that one, you'll enjoy this one, too. Like Mathilda, Katharina is a light read told from the point of view of a teen, has YA crossover appeal and a strong story with an unexpected ending. If that sounds like your cup of tea, I'd recommend picking it up right away.

Rating: BACKLIST

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from LibraryThing.com.