Wherever Nina Lies

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten has a pretty ominous title. Throw in the blurb on the cover which talks about how Ellie misses her sister who vanished two years ago and I can probably be forgiven for imagining shallow graves in the forest and horrible last moments. I picked this book up about half an hour before I was supposed to go to sleep and was worried I would be too upset by the book to fall asleep. Luckily it's a fast, satisfying suspenseful read, and while I did turn off my light later than I meant to, I wasn't up all night fretting about poor Nina and her mysterious fate.

When something huge and traumatic happens to a person they end up kind of stuck. The rest of the world keeps on moving forward in time but the person who is grieving stays in the moment of loss, trying to replay what happened and make sense of it. When that person doesn't really know what happened they get even more stuck, a victim of all the possible scenarios that run through their heads. The person who loses a parent is able to grieve and move on when enough time has passed but when the parent loses a child the world has turned upside down and the expected order of loss has been reversed. The same holds true for a sibling who may not truly grasp their own mortality, much less the mortality of their brother or sister. Again when the vanished sibling is just gone, with no resolution, the grieving process is completely disrupted as the remaining child may not be able to accept that their missing sibling is dead and gone forever.

Ellie's artistic and beautiful sister Nina wasn't spending much time at home three years ago but she was coming home and touching base and Ellie was convinced that their relationship was about to change, becoming the tight sisterly bond she's always longed for. Instead one day Nina just disappeared, with no warning, no note and leaving her things behind. Ellie is stuck, waiting for her sister to come home, baffled by their mother's indifference, looking for her sister in every face she sees. Her best friend Amanda (check this) is sick and tired of the whole thing and thinks Ellie is wallowing, a word that drives a wedge between the two friends.

When Ellie discovers a clue in an old book dropped off at Amanda's place of business she is thrilled and wants to follow it immediately. Amanda reluctantly agrees, mostly because following up means going to a party and the two of them head off to a demolition party at a big mansion. Here Ellie meets a young masked man but is unable to get any solid information on her sister. The one boy who says he can help is actually a jerk who lures her into the basement in order to try and pressure her into sex. Ellie is disappointed and ends up in another argument with Amanda so it's no wonder she's in a fragile emotional state the next day at work when Sean, the boy in the mask she met the day, before shows up and offers to help her look for Nina. He's beautiful, sympathetic and he lost his own sibling so she feels he is the only one who can really understand what she's going through. She does something completely out of character; drops everything – friend, work, mother – and goes off on a cross-country journey with her new friend, following the most tenuous of clues.

Ellie has no idea what she'll find on her journey – more heartbreak, terrible news, fantastic news – anything could happen, which adds to both the pleasure and the fear of the journey. What she doesn't seem to have grasped is that going on a cross-country trip can put her at risk physically as well as emotionally and financially. She is so focused on finding her sister that she ignores obvious signs of danger and fraud.

Wherever Nina Lies is an interesting book with well developed characters but it didn't quite work for me. The mystery/thriller aspects are a little too smooth and work a little too well, more reminiscent of an episode of The Hardy Boys or Scooby Doo than anything that might happen in real life. My disbelief couldn't quite stay suspended.

Before I go I'd like to say a few words about the remake of the Prisoner. I saw the original with my mom when I was a young girl and I was utterly confused by it. Watching the remake didn't clear any of that confusion up. If anything I ended more befuddled than ever. My DVR went a little nuts and recorded seven hours and forty-two minutes of one episode, which meant I watched half the series at one sitting, but I wasn't sure the thing and had actually ended. Then when it started back up again I wasn't sure if I'd seen that episode before. It was too weird for me to make sense of and not interesting enough for me to remember. This is especially sad as I like weird and I'm now enjoying the original, which is playing On Demand via my cable provider until the end of the month. I finally gave up on the remake and just enjoyed watching Ian McKellen act. That's always entertaining and a pleasure.

One-Paragraph Review

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