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For me, getting abducted in broad daylight on the main street of a nowhere little farm town in Nebraska was far from the most fucked-up thing that could have happened that day.this book is kind of like what would happen if megan abbott wrote a lifetime movie. unfortunately, it also reads like the lifetime people stepped in at the end with some editorial guidance and took what had started off as a fascinating twist on the kidnap-novel and tamed it down into something more conventional.its about two twelve-year-old girls, lois and carly may, who are abducted for two months by a man they refer to as zed. while they are captive, they are not harmed or interfered with, and its almost like they are on an unusual vacation, away from family problems or pressures. carly may is a pageant girl, accustomed to being in the spotlight, while lois is quieter, more reflective, and both got into zeds car willingly. they soon settle into a situation thats akin to stockholm syndrome, as they vie for zeds attention and subtly compete against each other for his favor, while managing his mood swings and only half-considering escape. its a creepy story, but theres very little fear - its just a fascinating examination of the developing relationship between the girls and between the girls and zed.years later, the girls are now in their late twenties, the events of that summer long behind them. carly mae is now known as chloe - an actress struggling with the narrowing range of opportunities for a medium-talented actress aging out of plum roles. lois is a literature professor who has written a novel about the abduction under the pen name lucy ledger, which is now being turned into a movie in which chloe has landed the part of the detective. chloe has some strong opinions about the way lois has portrayed their story, and things are tense as the two women meet on the set after such a long time has passed from their intense never-quite-friendship.mitchell writes well, and the alternating-viewpoints of lois and chloe in the beginning, recounting their experiences before and after the abduction are fantastic. the characters have strong voices, and shes great at giving them punchy little lines and observations, shaping their dynamic and relating the effect of that summer on their entire lives, as well as some commentary on our horrified fascination with abducted children. the extended excerpt from lois novel is also great, and honestly - i would have liked to have read that in its entirety, along with chloes snipey little reactions to it. but then it gets a little kludgy. i love the idea of the layered novel. this one has a movie being made from a book based on true events, and all the shades of truth that get leached from the story during that process. it has carly may turning into chloe, called callie in the book/movie, playing a character on the periphery of her own experiences, watching an actress play her younger self. it has lois, going by lucy, but called hannah in the book/movie, watching both her life and also her interpretation of her life play out before her. i love the weirdness of this scenario - its all sorts of david lynchy identity-play. but then theres the final layer, where a stalker-storyline is slapped on top of all this and turns the glorious originality of the premise into a very boring, cookie-cutter womens crime story where things occur and are wrapped up in the most familiar and expected way. which is a drag, considering how smart and edgy this book began. while the mechanism of the stalkers tactics are intriguing and creepy, its just one layer too many, and the resolution is jarringly weak when compared to the rest of the book. its definitely worth a read for the authors undeniable strengths at dissecting the landmine-filled relationships between women, between girls, as well as my beloved ms. abbott does, but i wish she had just stuck to that without feeling the need to wrap the whole thing in a flimsy additional crime story. its got some debut-novel flaws, but you better believe i will be reading whatever she writes next. and, as always, blair has written the review i wish i had written.

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