I have to admit- I am a crime show junkie. I never miss an episode of Law and Order: SVU, Without a Trace, or Shark. I watch the reruns of Law and Order on TNT. I love reading crime blogs online and web sleuth message boards. So when I received an ARC of The Year We Disappeared: A Father – Daughter Memoir by Cylin and John Busby, I was thrilled. Yesterday I sat down to read it and finished in one sitting. This is a thrilling YA memoir with huge adult crossover appeal. In this day and age of TV crime dramas, this true life tale of a family nearly destroyed by a brutal shooting will not go unnoticed!
When Cylin Busby, now a a writer for young readers and former Teen editor, was nine years old she lived a normal live on Cape Cod. Then, overnight, her family’s life changed forever. A policeman in smalltown Falmouth, Massachusetts, her father is shot in the face on his way to work the overnight shift for the local department. The point-blank shots tear off John’s jaw, leaving it laying on the passenger seat of his car. While John is fighting for his life, he is also fighting to bring the perpetrators to justice. He knows that local small town, petty crimes and arsonist Raymond Meyer is to blame. However, Meyer holds the town and police department in the palm of his hand, and the investigation goes nowhere. Meanwhile, John’s family is placed under 24-hr surveillance while doctors struggle to repair his face. He can no longer speak or eat and is forced to spend months in the hopsital. Cylin and her brothers must live with constant police presence, including escorts to school, police officers guarding their classrooms, and a high-tech security system. This eventually leads to no contact with friends, as most of them are too scared to even speak to the family anymore.
Worst of all, the shooter is still on the loose. With little being done by the local police department, John struggles with the anger he faces due to his injuries and the the revenge he so badly wants to enact on the man who has destroyed his family. Cylin struggles to come to terms with this new life her family is forced to live and her own fears. Over the course of a year, the family realizes that life can’t continue this way- and they disappear- moving to a new state, where no one knows them or their story. And they pray that no one from their old life finds them.
The story is told in alternating chapters by John and Cylin. The reader experiences both of their lives through that harrowing year. From the shooting to its awful aftermath, the story is at times heartbreaking. It also shows how families can come together and rise above even the worst circumstances.
Today, John and his wife, Polly, live in an undisclosed location. To this day, the man who shot John has never been prosecuted. His family still lives with the fear of retaliation in the back of their minds. Yet John and Cylin have decided to share their story in this jaw-dropping memoir of life on the run for an average family.