Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Human Face: Why I Acquired Missing Pieces

As the end of any year rolls around, we’re often inundated with recaps of major news and/or human interest stories that captivated the nation or world throughout the year. Ranging in gravity from Kim Kardashian’s mini-marriage to the death of Osama bin Laden, these reports keep us informed, entertained, inspired, etc., reminding us that we are part of a larger whole and providing us with a place in a global society that is at times rock solid and other times shaky at best.

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to remember the “human” part of the human interest aspect. We see the pictures, the videos, and the quotes expressing sorrow or shock or unbridled joy, but we rarely get to glimpse the reality of these situations as experienced by those most closely involved. It is an exceptional piece of work that allows the average reader/listener/viewer to really understand the mindset and challenges and triumphs of people caught up in situations that will change their lives forever.

This is why I acquired Missing Pieces, a young adult novel by Jon Ripslinger. Author of How I Fell in Love and Learned to Shoot Free Throws (Roaring Brook), Derailed (Llewellyn/Flux), Last Kiss (Llewellyn/Flux), and The Hustle (Ampichellis Ebooks), he expertly puts a human face on a small town murder scandal, one based loosely on real events and one that is definitely hard to forget.

In Missing Pieces, Kyle and Kelly Donovan’s mother has disappeared, and their father is accused of dismembering her and dumping her pieces into the Mississippi River. The story begins when the family is waiting for the father’s second trial to begin—his first ended in a hung jury—and subsequently follows Kyle’s desperate search for the truth about his mother’s disappearance.

The focus is not the morbid details of the crime, but the effects of the whole terrible situation on two teenagers suddenly thrust into facing a grim reality no child should have to face. Either their father killed their mother and they could end up with no parents if he’s convicted, or their mother ran off with a lover and abandoned them, framing their father for her murder. Imagine that you’re a teenager and those are your choices: Live with a murderer, live with no parents, or live with the fact your mother ran off and left you…

Which would you prefer?

Jon Ripslinger is at his best in telling a tale that is at once chilling and inspiring. He skillfully and realistically brings to light the silent suffering of those of those touched by horrific events beyond their control with empathy and insight, and from the first read of the manuscript, I was hooked. It’s an intriguing read, and just when you think everything is as resolved as it can be, Mr. Ripslinger throws in a bittersweet twist that will leave the reader stunned. This is why I acquired Missing Pieces, and this is why I recommend it to any reader looking for a compelling read that will resonate far beyond the last word.

As 2011 draws to a close, unforgettable stories will continue to connect and captivate us. If you are a fan of YA literature (and maybe even if you’re not), I highly recommend Missing Pieces be one of them.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from Ampichellis Ebooks!


Mrs. Kroening said...

This is a great read as are Ripslinger 's other novels. They are realistic which appeals to high school readers and adults. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

Love this author! Keep em coming please!!