Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Blackbird

Blackbird

Anna Carey
Fiction
For ages 14 and up
HarperCollins, 2014   ISBN: 978-0062299734

When she wakes up she is lying near a tunnel at the Vermont/Sunset subway station. She has no idea how she got there or who she is. She is almost crushed by a train but has the sense to lie still as it rolls above her. She is seen by people on the platform and soon the police and emergency personnel arrive. Not wanting to answer questions that she cannot answer the girl runs.

   When she finally has a chance to assess her situation, she examines the backpack that she has with her. In it there is some food and water, a thousand dollars in cash, a map marked with a star, some zip ties, a t-shirt, a notepad, a pocketknife, a blanket, and a can of mace. On the notepad  there is a message which reads: “Do not contact the police. When you are alone call 818-555-1748.” There is a tattoo on her arm, an image of a bird and a series of numbers and letters that have no significance that she can remember.

   The next morning the girl goes to a supermarket where she cleans up in the bathroom. She meets a boy there who lets her borrow his phone. She calls the number that is written on the notepad and is told to go to the building marked on the map. She is to “Come alone.”

   At the building she goes to an office on the ninth floor. The door is locked and no one answers when she knocks, so the girl uses her knife to jimmy the door open and when she steps inside she discovers that someone has robbed the place. Money lies on the carpet, the safe is open and the place has been tossed. The girl knows what people will think. They will see her on the security camera, they will think that she was the one who broke into the office. The girl runs again and not long after she sees her face on a T.V. screen in a store. The police are looking for her.

   In a diner the next morning the girl notices that a man is watching her, and when she leaves, he follows. Once again, her instincts tell her to move, to get away, and she does her best to do this. She eventually manages to lose the man and decides to leave Los Angeles. Maybe in San Francisco she will be able to disappear and to then figure out who she is.

   She is waiting outside the Greyhound station for her bus when a woman appears and she has a gun on her hip. It is soon clear that the woman is after her and so the girl runs once again. In an alley the two scuffle and the girl manages to get the gun away from the woman. For a moment she thinks she has won, but then the woman attacks. The woman is just about to stab the girl when she is shot by the man who was following the girl earlier in the day.

   Later, in a motel, the girl tries to piece together what has happened. Little shreds of memory are coming back to her little by little. She knows that she was present at a funeral. She knows that there was a boy whom she loved. She knows that they were both being pursued by something or someone in a forest somewhere. Feeling overwhelmed by what has happened to her, the girl calls the boy whom she met in the supermarket. The boy, Ben, comes to see her and after she tells him a little about what has been going on he invites her to stay with him.

   For a while the girl allows herself to feel safe, to enjoy being with Ben, to even grow close to him a little. Then she figures out that the man has been able to find her because there is a tracking device in her backpack. She cannot let Ben get involved in her mess so she leaves him and sets a trap for the man who has been following her.

   The girl goes to a park and waits for the man to turn up. Sure enough the man comes to the park to find out what is going on, which is when the girl ambushes him. The man does not tell the girl much, but he tells her enough that she understands that he was paid to set her up so that she could not go to the police. For some reason, he decided to help her when the woman tried to kill her and now soon his employers, whoever they are, will come to park to find him. He and the girl need to escape soon, before it is too late.

   Written in the second person, this chilling story is perfectly paced. The author reveals secrets about the girl’s past with great skill, drawing out the story and keeping readers on their toes as new pieces of the girl’s puzzling situation are shown to us.

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