They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney

Caroline B. Cooney is a go-to author for me.  Whether I am looking for the perfect book to hook a reluctant reader or a fantastic mystery that will keep my readers on their edge of their seat; Cooney is the answer.  She writes fast, suspenseful, non-stop action thrillers that leave you thinking that maybe the story was true.  Were you reading a newspaper account of an actual story or was it fiction?

Her newest endeavor is no different. They Never Came Back is a fast-paced thriller about a young girl whose parents embezzle millions in a financial scam. When they flee the country, their ten-year old daughter Murielle is left behind. In the ensuing 5 years she is put into the foster care system and seems to disappear.

Now going by the name Cathy Ferris, Murielle enrolls in an accelerated language summer program in her hometown of Greenwich. Thinking she will be able to get a glimpse of her beloved cousin, Tommy, she is shocked when he recognizes her. At that moment, her life once again changes. Suddenly, the FBI is back. They want to use Cathy/Murielle (whoever she is) as bait to lure the parents back to the US. Cathy isn’t sure if she wants to remember her old life. And she had no idea how her parents’ actions affected others, like their employees who were sent to jail in their place.

Awesome, awesome, awesome book. I could not put it down. A great introduction to some of the recent financial scandals, this book educates while keeping readers on the edge of their seats. As a teacher, I was thrilled to see the characterization of the ensemble characters. They are overachievers, kids who are willing to give up their entire summer to learn a new language. And they are attached to their cell phones, social media, and laptops. The ensemble and background characters ring true and bore more than a striking resemblance to my own students.

Highly recommended for middle school and high school libraries!

*Review copy courtesy of the publisher