Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Girl in the White Van by April Henry

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Savannah Taylor has been dragged across America as her mother searches for a partner that will make her feel whole, moving from place to place once things go downhill. Conditions are starting to get bad between her mom and her boyfriend Tim, but Portland finally feels like home, between its culture, kung fu classes, and a potential friend, or more. One night, when Savannah is returning from her kung fu class, a man in a white van kidnaps her. Distracted, disoriented, and lost in thought, Savannah is unable to defend herself from her attacker, while everyone assumes that she has run away due to her fight with Tim. After a futile attempt at escape, Savannah is locked in a trailer with a girl named Jenny Dowd, who went missing 10 months ago, and has suffered immensely by their kidnapper, who goes by “Sir.” Now, Savannah, with her broken wrist, and Jenny, with her torn, scarred face, must escape while staying safe from Sir and his vicious dog, Rex.

One thing I really liked about this book was that it was written from the perspectives of many of the main and side characters. This isn’t often seen in books, and really allowed me to better understand the story from the views of multiple people. The characters in this book were well developed, as well as realistic and relatable. The book was also written exceptionally well overall, and many of the details in the books were backed up with facts and research. The author writes stunningly throughout the book, causing the words to paint a fantastic, detailed picture of the entire story. Everything came together to create a compelling and intriguing narrative that captured the reader’s attention, and begged them to keep reading.

One memorable thing about this book was how it truly had a female heroine save the day. In many books and movies, we see that the female character(s) are rescued by the male protagonist, but not in this book. Instead, Savannah was the one who eventually led to her and Jenny’s safe escape, even when things didn’t go as planned. From the beginning of the book, Savannah is shown fighting gender stereotypes, and ultimately showing the world how strong women truly are.

Review by Heena, Twin Hickory Library

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