Author: Sophie Littlefield
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: The plot and characters in this book felt fresh and new. I loved the raw emotions and difficult moral questions the author brought vividly to life.
“Twenty-year-old Taylor Jarvis and Paul Carroll go missing in Weir, North Dakota, where they have been working on rigs owned by Oasis Energy. The mothers of the two boys come to Weir to find out what happened to their sons and form an uneasy alliance. Shay Jarvis, a 41-year-old single [mother], has more grit than resources; for wealthy suburban housewife Colleen Carroll, the opposite is true. Overtaxed by worry, exhaustion, and fear, they question each other’s methods and motivations – but there is no one else to help, and they must learn to work together if they are to have any chance of breaking through the barriers put up by their sons’ employer, the indifference of an overtaxed police department, and a town of strangers with their own secrets against [the] backdrop of a modern day gold rush.” (slightly modified from here)
When I ended up finding The Silent Sister a disappointment, I was a bit worried that domestic thrillers like this didn’t have much more to offer me. I was therefore extra excited to have The Missing Place come along and prove me completely wrong. Although this book definitely fits into that genre and shares a fast-paced tension with other books I’ve read, the characters and the plot felt very fresh to me. The main characters were both sometimes selfish or mean in pursuit of their sons, but their love for their sons keeps them both very relatable. The author made feel invested in all of the characters whose perspectives she shared. I wanted things to work out well for everyone, even when their needs conflicted with one another, and I loved how challenging that made moral judgements in this story.
The complicated relationships between characters were another novel part of this story. Shay and Colleen, for example, sometimes have the same goals and sometimes their goals conflict. Sometimes they support each other and sometimes they tear each other apart. It also becomes clear as we learn more that Colleen’s relationship with her son wasn’t as simple as she would like it to be. Through their words and actions, Colleen and Shay both make it clear how much they love their sons. I was very impressed by how viscerally the author made me feel their pain and despair when their sons are missing. The raw emotions portrayed in this book were another thing I loved. If you’re looking for something fresh and different, edgy and emotional, I suggest moving The Missing Place to the top of your to-read pile.
Do you ever worry that a genre doesn’t have much new to offer? Do you try to get your enthusiasm for that genre back or do you move on to something else?