The Girl Who Wasn't There
by Penny Joelson
I know what I saw.
Nothing ever happens on Kasia's street. And Kasia would know. Her illness keeps her home for days at a time, with little to do but watch the world from her bedroom window. So when she witnesses what looks like a kidnapping, she's not sure she can believe her own eyes...
So she sets out to find the only other witness. The girl in the window across the street. The girl who was also watching when things went down.
But what Kasia discovers shocks her more than the kidnapping itself.
There is no girl.
Okay, hear me out. I normally don't give low ratings and it PAINS me to have to do such a thing but man, this book got on my nerves! The writing was decent, the characters were (quoting a Goodreads person) dull, but the plot? The plot was the worst thing of all. The moment I read the first page I was like, crraaaaaapppp, this is going to be GOOD. But it wasn't, the first page is the only thing that kept me going, the only thing that gave me hope. Why do you sound so down? You may ask. Well, I've read about three crapy books this week, books I will not even DEIGN to mention, books which made me almost go into a book slump. So yes, I picked this one up with the fragile longing of it being halfway decent...and I guess it kind of was. Decent, I mean.
RATING: 🌟🌟🌟⭐⭐ 3.5
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! ABORT IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT YET! OR READ IT AND LOVED IT! OR HAVE SOMETHING AGAINST RANTS!
Alright, let's begin with what I hated the most, shall we? The characters were soooo dull! Seriously, I mixed them with each other so continuously I myself worried that it was going to be a pain until I finished this book, and it kind of was. Let me explain, I absolutely adore when a sickness that only a minority of people suffer through is represented and shared with the world, I truly do. Perhaps that was one of the two highlights that made this story a bit better for me. I just didn't appreciate how simplistically minded the characters were! Take for example, when Kasia was trying to find out whether another girl lived across the street (which is understandable since Kasia could only get out of bed for small periods of time, and had to get her entertainment from somewhere). Said girl having witnessed a possible kidnapping, which hello? Was only ever mentioned thrice in the whole book, EVEN though, the synopsis made it seem as if that kidnapping and the mystery behind it, was going to be at the center of the spotlight. Spoiler alert, it wasn't. Back to the ghost-girl, I think everyone was at the edge of their seats every time that girl had a whole page to herself. The chills! The heartbreak! Alas. The story was not about her, regardless of the fact that the story was SUPPOSED to be about her. *Initiate frustrated breathing*So, yes, Kasia, dear smart, VERY intelligent Kasia, went over to that house to ask whether a girl existed or not. Yada yada, dull conversation, the woman living there says it's her niece who's caring for the baby. You know, a very good excuse overall. Jump ahead about, 50 pages or so, Nav is a sweet guy, Kasia's neighbor is an old lady who is very nice and caring, OL has a stroke, which Kasia determines to investigate because duh, she saw OL's feet laid down on the floor from the vantage point of the mail-slot. She goes in, calls 911 (supremely smart decision), sees a picture lying on the floor, decides to TAKE it (obvious decision, right?), tells her mom (who is pretty much background chatter, a lentil has more personality). Mom takes picture to OL, OL gets emotional, says it's her daughter, she and her daughter reconnect. Said Nav is introduced into the story, as previously mentioned, very sweet guy, would've annoyed me to death but hey, very caring. Kasia's 'best friend' basically is described as the hundreds of people I've met in my frivolous lifetime (interesting, not very much info about them and gone with the wind), she is truly useless to the story. Truly. The story was very simplistic in nature, although dark themes were discussed and experienced. On more than one occasion Kasia was glaringly oblivious of the danger she was causing when trying to speak with Reema (previously known as ghost-girl). Let's think this through, just for a bit, one day you see the girl you've been trying to contact for a while, in the park, still with me?Okay, so then you approach said girl and start TALKING to her. Knowing that she is frightened, scared and clearly, something has happened to her which hurt her but no, we'll just plow on, making the girl even more uncomfortable. Because that's the SMART thing to do. Then Reema walks (runs) away trying to put distance between her and dumbo over here, which is quite understandable, and Kasia STILL asks herself, "What did I do for her to leave so abruptly?". If I tell you that steam came out from my ears at that sentence, it would be a classic case of underestimation. Moving on from my absolute hatred for Kasia's awesome brain, there's the matter of her parents being a mess. Dad sometimes says (and acts) as if Kasia is the most important thing to him, which is great, but other times he detests the work she causes him. Kasia overheard that comment, and it was never mentioned again. Excuse me, what? I would want explanations! I would need reassurance that I'm more than a burden to my parents, but nope, none of that crossed Kasia's neanderthal way of processing information. Other things that annoyed my only remaining brain cell to the last of my patience, was the fact that the kidnapping was just that. There, I saw someone being kidnapped, told authorities, they investigated, found nothing and that was it. Erased from my memory, *scoff* Seriously? How, how can you forget such an important piece of information. How? Again, all Kasia. The friendships in this book were so 2d! Nothing in substance, nothing that made me fall in love with the squad (they weren't even a squad really. More like a group of random people who were friends with the same leech) I just cannot leave the subject of Kasia alone. I need a distraction. Okay, good points...*silence*...decent points then. Mrs. Gayatri was a complete sweetheart, even though (again with this complaint) she was not necessary whatsoever to the final goal of the story, which was...um...it WAS something. I just don't know what that SOMETHING was supposed to be. Was it entertaining? Yes, as much as seeing a person get eaten alive is. Was the writing eh? Yes, it was very childish at times. Other times it was simply...there. The only things I can say I loved were the snippets of Reema's POV scattered throughout the book. They were so incredibly heartbreaking and pungent in their pain, THAT is what the whole book was supposed to be like. Long rant short:
I appreciate the author's implementation of a mental illness as vague as ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis) which is very serious and in no way am I ranting against that interpretation. I will never read this book again, never as in, not even if I'm forced to do it. Kasia was ugh, she was a pain. Not the parts when she was strong and brave or even the parts where she had done too much and her illness had demanded of her a greater payment than she could give. None of those parts angered me, they actually made me feel as though she could be real. The parts that really bothered me were when, if she wanted to do something (walk) she would, regardless of other's trying to persuade her, but afterward? When she was in pain? She would blame anybody and everybody. Oh! How much I hated those pages. With this note, I will close this spectacular rant of mine: There was a minimal amount of thriller (a speck of it), would I recommend it? Absolutely not. But will I tear the author down? Absolutely not. She has the potential for writing good books, I as a reader would just advise that she does not try to fit so many genres into a book. Romance? Headache. Thriller? Nada. Inspirational? Tried.
P.S: I just read over it, and I am deeply sorry for those who loved the book, for me, it was just a waste of time. Again, the author has a great road to pave in the future. Perhaps my sarcastic self will try one of her books again. Maybe.
P.S.S: As previously said, I have read about 3 crappy books this week and I don't think this was the worst. A win? Please tell me at least one of you Booktastic masterpieces agrees. I don't want to feel mean!