Feature Book of the Week #1 The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Feature Book of the Week
The Night she Disappeared
April Henry

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete’s Pizza. One night, Kayla—another delivery girl—goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can’t move beyond the fact that Kayla’s fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete’s. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn’t dead—and to find her before she is.

A Guest Post from April Henry 

Thirty years ago, a teenager went out to deliver pizzas in a town about 45 minutes away from where I live.

Just like in The Night She Disappeared, her car was found with the keys in the ignition, her purse on the seat, and the pizza boxes on the ground. And just like in my book, it came out that the caller had asked if a different girl was working that night on delivery. I always wondered what it felt like that to be that other girl, knowing that the person had called for you. Would you feel marked? Guilty?

When I was in high school, I worked for two years at Pietro’s Pizza as a cashier. So I was able to take some of my own memories – playing Frisbee in the back parking lot with the pizza skins, calling the sausage “Alpo,” the weird joy of working a very busy rush – and put those into the book.

In many ways, the book is like a collage. For one, it is told from multiple points of view. I knew I wanted the two girl’s voices – Gabie, the girl who is taken and Kayla, the girl who was supposed to be. Drew came about because I wanted to bring in a guy’s voice. While those are the three main point-of-view characters, there are others, like the people who find the missing girl’s car, or the diver who looks for her body in the river. 

Another way in which the book is like a collage is that there’s more than just narrative – there are fortune cookie messages, a missing poster pizza order forms, a pamphlet for parents of missing kids, an autopsy report, etc. I love the way the graphic designer, April Ward, brought them to life in the book.

One of the pieces is a note Kayla writes in blood. When I was originally shown the art, the word “I” had the crossbars on the top and bottom. My thought was that if I was writing a note in blood I wouldn’t waste blood on those crossbars. I offered to prick my finger and write the note for real in my own blood. The publisher’s response was a somewhat horrified “no.” I guess they’re not used to how far I’m willing to go for research.  Instead, they just found another font.

AprilBloody note.jpg

About the Author
I grew up in a small Oregon town, and I still remember my mom teaching me with alphabet flash cards. White with a picture of an object on one side and a letter on the other, those cards glowed with magic.

When I was 12, I sent Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a short story about a frog named Herman who loved peanut butter. The day he received it, Dahl had lunch with the editor of an international children's magazine and read her the story. She contacted me and asked to publish it.

But as I got older, even though I read all the time, I didn't even dream of being a writer. It would have been like thinking I could fly by flapping my arms really, really hard. Then I got a hospital job with lots of down time and started thinking maybe I could try to write a book about the life and death that surrounded me every day.

That first book I wrote attracted no interest from agents. My second book got me an agent (and we're still together many years and many books later) and nice rejection letters from editors. My third book didn't even get nice rejection letters from editors. My fourth book sold in two days. It was a four-year overnight success.

Since then, I've written nearly a dozen mysteries and thrillers for teens and adults. The first in the Triple Threat Club series, co-written with Lis Wiehl, was on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks. It was followed by Hand of Fate and Heart of Ice.

My first young adult novel, Shock Point was an ALA Quick Pick, a Top 10 Books for Teens nominee, a New York Library's Books for the Teen Age book, named to the Texas Tayshas list, and a finalist for Philadelphia's Young Readers Choice Award. It was followed by two more teen thrillers: Torched and Girl, Stolen. Girl, Stolen was an ALA Quick Pick and an ALA Best Books for Young Adults.
My books have been short-listed for the Agatha Award, the Anthony Award, and the Oregon Book Award, and chosen twice for Booksense by the independent booksellers of America. They have been translated into Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, and French.

Check out April Henry's website for more about this mystery writer.

9 Delicious Comments:

Mrs. Larrew said...

April Henry is AWESOME! I met her at MASL (the Missouri Association of School Librarians) conference and heard her speak on Girl Stolen. She went into to detail about her research tactics and how she studies her topics and subjects for months, even years before she begins writing.
I then started following her on Facebook! If you are a social media user, I totally recommend you follow her posts. Really interesting to see what she is working on next. Who knows- maybe there is a sequel to an award nominee coming!
As far as The Night She Disappeared....... You won't catch me delivering pizzas anytime soon.

Mrs. Larrew
CKMS Librarian

Tylea said...

This book sounds very interesting. I don't usually like thrillers/mysteries, but this book makes me want to read it. I want to find out if she is dead or not, and to me, I would have felt guilty if somebody got kidnapped, when it was supposed to be me. I like the sound of this book. Tylea, 8th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Nicholas said...

This sounds like something I'll read. It sounds like it'll be one of those books that leaves you with huge cliffhangers that make me want to constantly read until I go to sleep! Already I know that it's gonna build up so much suspense. long story short, sounds wonderful. Nicholas, 8th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Jermaine said...

I love your story. All of the rejections and heart break by those cruel, mean publishers. The way you proved them wrong by winning awards, nominations, and even a N.Y. Times best seller. To be honest, I am not even a big reader, but when i read about this book, I became instantly drawn. I love mystery books! Jermaine, 8th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Jordan said...

I'm going to enjoy reading this book. It's interesting and caught my attention, and I didn't even read a page yet. I like how you came up with an amazing story from something that happened earlier in your life. I can't wait to read The Night She Disappeared. Jordan, 7th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Shannon Steimel said...

Not only am I excited for our middle school students to read this book, I am also ordering extra copies for our high school students as well. I love the back story of how the author got the idea for the book. Girl, Stolen has been very popular with the readers at our school, and I believe The Night She Disappeared will be a hit, too. Ms. Shannon Parker, Library Media Specialist, Lift for Life Academy

Brittany Woods Book Battle Team said...

This book was full of mystery. It was a total page turner. It makes you think that there's always someone looking around the corner. It reminded us of modern day kidnappings and how they can happen to anyone.

Anonymous said...

It was a really good book but the middle was getting a little boring but the beginning and end was really suspenseful. I really like the end because it had a lot of action.

Fort Zumwalt North Middle

Anonymous said...

I love April Henry! She is one of my favorite authors! This is a great story full of mystery and suspense. When the main character is told that she was supposed to be taken, she and all of us took an inward gasp! I strongly recommend this book!

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