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Sudden Moves by Kelli Sue Landon (Review #2)

Sudden MovesReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

What would you do if one of your friends suddenly disappeared? Would you try to track him or her down, and find out what happened, or would you accept the disappearance as something that is probably easily explained away, and let it go at that? In Sudden Moves, a YA mystery by talented author Kelli Sue Landon, sixteen-year-old high school student Michelle Martin faces just such a decision, when a friend of hers (though not her closest friend) Katie Brashers vanishes. Katie has with her a book she’s borrowed from Michele that Michele’s grandmother had given her, that is autographed by the author. This is an added incentive for Michelle to investigate matters further. Her search for Katie with her friends Tami and Brad Wilkes takes her into some dangerous situations, and you’ll be kept on the edge of your seat reading this page-turning mystery/thriller.

Sometimes big things happen in small towns. Michelle and her friends live in the small town of Giles, Illinois, and go to Giles High School. I don’t know where that town is, but the city of Marion, which is close to it and is mentioned in the novel, Is one I’ve heard of and driven through when I used to live in Illinois. Giles is only a town of around 4,000 souls, but the author makes it come alive, describing it and the people who live there with a colorful flair. Having Michelle’s mom be a hair dresser was a nice touch, because often hairdressers in smaller towns hear most of whatever rumors are blowing in the wind. Her mom does provide some hints and clues to Michelle, but they don’t have the best relationship in the world, and Michelle thinks her mom is too strict with her, and drinks too much, especially when her father is on the road working as a trucker. For people to just up and vanish is odd, and Michelle doesn’t know why more people aren’t curious to find out all of the details behind what happened.

Michelle’s mom doesn’t want her to go snooping around the house where Katie lived with her younger sister, Deedee Thompson, and mother, Luanne White. Of course, she does just that, though, with her friend Tami, who pretends to be older than she is, and asks about renting the now vacant house. Everyone believes that Luanne took her daughters to Orlando, Florida, for a vacation, and then decided to move there, but something about the story doesn’t seem right to Michelle. She has heard that a blue SUV had been seen in the driveway shortly before Katie and her sister and mother disappeared. When the man arrives to show Tami and Michelle the house (Michelle’s role is pretending to be Tami’s younger sister, who will also be moving in), both teens see that it is also a blue SUV. Michelle can’t help but wonder if the man, Sean, could have been responsible for whatever happened. Tami, however, brushes aside Michelle’s concerns, and even wants to date Sean, despite Michelle’s telling her she thinks Sean is married.

Sudden Moves: A Young Adult Mystery by Kelli Sue Landon

Sudden MovesReviewed by Stephanie Nordkap

Michelle Martin grows suspicious when her friend, Katie Brashers, isn’t in attendance at school after a trip to Florida after Spring Break. The police and adult don’t see anything suspicious in Katie’s disappearance, especially considering Katie’s mother was known to have been flirtatious and people just assumed she must have run off with some man. Having lent Katie a special book given her by her grandmother however, and not having said good-bye to her friends and boyfriend, Michelle teams up with her best friend, Tami, and Katie’s boyfriend, Brad, to seek out the truth the Katie’s disappearance. Dodging a demanding mother, the threesome started their own investigation by talking to neighbours, and looking inside Katie’s house. With clues leading into one dead-end after another, Michelle is about to give up when her dog helps her find the most important clue of all and leads her into danger she doesn’t suspect and circumstances beyond what she would ever expect.

Michelle Martin was an engaging young lady whom I really enjoyed as a main character. I really liked her tenaciousness and passive/aggressiveness in trying to find clues that would lead her to find her friend Katie. I also liked her vulnerability with regards to her relationship with her mother, someone whom I really did not like, nor did I really relate to at all. It would be very difficult to deal with someone who has these unpredictable mood swings all of the time, and she handle the situations with maturity and grace. When Michelle finally stood up for herself at dinner one night, I really liked how the author handled the scene as she didn’t lower it to one of Michelle acting like a young child, but allowed Michelle to handle her mother with great aplomb and maturity. I also really liked Mr. Nichols and found him hilarious. He is one of those older people who are retired and don’t have a lot to do, but certainly tend to notice everyone around them. He would have a lot to say about life and I found him terribly interesting. My only concern with the character development is the relationship between Katie and Michelle as I didn’t really feel like there was any bonding between them, like there was a caring relationship. I felt the only reason Michelle wanted to find Katie was to get her book back and that is really no reason for someone to go to all this trouble. It created some confusion as I didn’t fully believe that Michelle’s reasons for looking for Katie were altruistic.