When Lightning Strikes (1-800-Where-R-You) by Meg Cabot

Before this weekend, I had never read a Meg Cabot book. Sure, I have seen “The Princess Diaries” movie(s). I had heard Meg’s name bandied about for the last few years. For some reason, I had never taken the time to read one of her books. However, during my last trip to the bookstore I stumbled on her 1-800-Where-R-You series, which really caught my interest. I have always been fascinated by missing persons cases (the forums over at Websleuths are some of my favorite reading), and it seemed like 1-800-Where-R-You would be right up my alley.

When Lightning Strikes (1-800-Where-R-You) is the story of  Jess Mastriani, a misunderstood teen who has “anger issues”, according to her guidance counselor.  When Jess ends up walking home from her daily gig in detention on afternoon, she is struck by lightning.  She seems fine and feels fine, and assures her best friend, Ruth, that all is well.  However, her life is changed forever when she wakes up the next morning.  As she gets out of bed, she realizes that she knows where Olivia and Sean are.  Granted, she has no idea who Olivia and Sean are so she ignores her dream.

Then, as Jess pours milk into her cereal she stares into the faces of Sean and Olivia.  On her milk carton.  Sean and Olivia are missing children and Jess somehow knows where they are.  When she lets the authorities know (through the toll-free hotline 1-800-Where-R-You), she learns that not everyone who is missing wants to be found.  And that you can’t stay anonymous when you are the only person with the answers everyone wants.

The remainder of the book follows Jess as she struggles to come to grips with her new ability.  When the federal government steps in she is backed into a corner- does she protect her family, those who are missing, or her country?  Plus, how can she do all this and still get the local bad boy to see her as girlfriend material?

I enjoyed this book and plan to read the rest of the series.  My only disasppointment is that  I am hesitant to put  it into my classroom library.  Jess is a typical high schooler, so her thoughts are littered with four-letter words. This fits her voice and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  However, that makes me hesitant to put it into a 6th grade classroom library.