Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wherever Nina Lies

The Facts
Author: Lynn Weingarten
Publisher: Point (Scholastic Imprint)
Date: 2009
Length: 311 pages

The Fiction
Ellie’s life has never been the same since her older sister Nina disappeared over two years ago. Despite the best efforts of her friends and family, she’s never been quite able to move on. Until one day, she discovers a clue to Nina’s disappearance, which sends her on a cross-country road trip with a charming new friend. Wherever Nina Lies is a road story, a mystery and a journey of love and self-discovery.

I found Ellie to be a very relatable character – a bit naive, but very likeable all the same. I did get the impression that her best friend Amanda would be quite hard to deal with, and her relationship with her mother was minimal, so it was easy to sympathise with her and encourage her to start looking for Nina. I also found, like Ellie, that it was very easy to get quickly swept up into the excitement of the road trip and fall for the charm of Sean. I really enjoyed Ellie’s retelling of her childhood memories of Nina – they were so lovely (the one in which Nina sings Happy Birthday over and over to try and block out their parents arguing was my favourite), and really reiterated why Nina was so special to Ellie, and why Ellie had been unable to move on since her disappearance.

I kind of love road-trip stories and this, combined with the mystery, was just well-suited to my reading interests. Though sadly, I found that I far preferred the journey to the destination. The trip was so well written, and I loved all the pit stops, the people (the Jamies! Oh the Jamies!) and the little quirks along the way. I’m still in two minds about the twist Weingarten throws two-thirds of the way in. Without giving too much I way, let’s just say I had figured something was up (Ellie – didn’t your mother ever tell you if something is too good to be true, then it probably is?). The final third of the novel seemed to have quite a change in tone and saw some big plot twists, which certainly shook things up. I did feel things started to get kind of over-the-top, and despite a rather neat and tidy ending, I still felt slightly unsatisfied with the way in which characters were left.

Wherever Nina Lies definitely appealed to my love to road stories and mysteries. It’s a relatively easy, but fairly pleasing read. Nina Weingarten does a great job at creating exciting, dynamic scenes (the insane house-wrecking party was just amazing). Whilst I was slightly disappointed with the ending, the strength of the rest of the novel made up for it. An enjoyable debut!


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