Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

vanishing season

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

After her mother lost her job in Chicago, Maggie and her parents move to Door County, Wisconsin to a home they have inherited.  Just as they move to the peninsula, teen girls start to disappear and are found floating in the water.  Maggie misses her best friend and all of the activity of Chicago, but she is also taken in by the quiet and the beauty of Door County.  She quickly makes friends with the unusual girl next door, Pauline, who is beautiful, wealthy but also ignores both those facts and is downright childlike most of the time.  There is also Liam, a boy desperately in love with Pauline, though Pauline just wants to remain friends forever.  Maggie enters their world of canoe rides, building saunas in the woods, bonfires and marshmallows, that is interrupted as the winter comes with more deaths of teen girls.  Soon a curfew is imposed and no one is allowed to travel on their own.  Maggie can still hang out with Liam and Pauline, but the isolated peninsula begins to become even more separated from the rest of the world.  Add to this a voice in the novel that speaks of death, of being dead, and you have a haunting teen read.

Anderson’s prose is incredible.  She has written a book where it is all about isolation, winter, and death.  Yet at the same time it is rather desperately and fragilely about life too.  There is warmth, first love, beautiful friendships, and the wonder of nature.  It is a novel of contrasts, one that hints at a ghost story but is not overtaken by it.  It is a book about love, but it moves beyond that as well, turning to life and death eventually.

As I said, Anderson’s writing is beautiful.  She captures moments with a delicacy and poignancy that makes even the smallest moments of life spectacular.  Here is one example from Page 61 in the digital version of the ARC:

If I could show you the lives of the people below me – the colors of what they all feel heading into this chilling, late fall – they’d be green and purple and red, leaking out through the roofs, making invisible tracks down the roads.

She plays with perspectives in the novel.  Maggie’s story is told in third person, while the voice of the ghost, as seen in the quote above, is told in first person.  Anderson is not afraid to create a book filled with tiny pieces that come together into one full work by the end.  She writes without the need for action to carry the book forward, instead capturing a place and a time with an eye for detail and discovery.

Haunting and wildly beautiful, this quiet book is not for everyone but those who love it will love it desperately.  Appropriate for ages 14-16.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and HarperTeen.

3 thoughts on “Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

  1. In the quote, do you mean “heading” instead of “heating” and “red” instead of “read”. If these apparent errors are not due to carelessness on your part, are we to assume the actual book has errors such as this throughout? I’m usually quite accepting of typos. We all hurry too much and need to slow down. But, a quote deserves very careful checking.

    I love Door County and your review makes this a book I will order!

    A 68- year-old retired schoolteacher.

      1. I have deep respect for for your honesty and willingness to accept responsibility. I hope you are able to put yourself in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s place and will think about this experience in the future each time you are transferring the words of someone else. I rate your blog entries #1 or #2 of the 20 I follow each day and wanted to help you maintain the high degree of excellence I have come to expect. I very much admire the way you responded to my criticism . . . very rare in the world we are living in today. Mistakes can be stepping stones to greater success and I feel confident this will happen because of your honesty.

        Thank you again for your reply and for the excellent information that enriches my life five days each week! I especially look forward to Fridays.

        Judy Weymouth

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