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The Missing Girl
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The Missing Girl

3.9 50
by Norma Fox Mazer

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This is the story of five sisters—Beauty, Mim, Stevie, Fancy, and Autumn—and the man who watches men.

He could be any ordinary man . . . but he's not. Unaware of his scrutiny and his increasingly forbidden thoughts about them, the sisters go on with their ordinary lives—planning, arguing, laughing, and crying—as if nothing bad could ever


This is the story of five sisters—Beauty, Mim, Stevie, Fancy, and Autumn—and the man who watches men.

He could be any ordinary man . . . but he's not. Unaware of his scrutiny and his increasingly forbidden thoughts about them, the sisters go on with their ordinary lives—planning, arguing, laughing, and crying—as if nothing bad could ever breach the security of their family.

In alternating points of view, Norma Fox Mazer manages to interweave the lives of predator and prey in this unforgettable psychological thriller.

Editorial Reviews

Tim Wynne-Jones
"The Missing Girl is an urgent, daring, compassionate thriller. Put it down — I dare you!"
Marion Dane Bauer
"The story is stunning! It is tender, touching, horrifying . . . and brilliantly executed. The characters leap off the page."
ALA Booklist (starred review)
“Gripping and satisfying…Mazer’s strong characterizations and her portrayal of family relationships stand out.”
ALA Booklist
"Gripping and satisfying…Mazer’s strong characterizations and her portrayal of family relationships stand out."
—Marion Dane Bauer
“The story is stunning! It is tender, touching, horrifying . . . and brilliantly executed. The characters leap off the page.”
—Tim Wynne-Jones
“The Missing Girl is an urgent, daring, compassionate thriller. Put it down — I dare you!”
Publishers Weekly

A stranger stalks the five sisters of a closely knit family in this taut drama. Alternating the viewpoints of the predator, who cultivates the anonymous appearance of "any respectable, ordinary man," and the Herbert girls, who cross his path each day on their way to and from school, Mazer (After the Rain) keeps readers on the edge of their seats with the knowledge that one of the five will be targeted for foul play. Distracted by worries-their father's disabling injury, dwindling funds, and individual problems they face at school-the girls pay little notice to the man and are oblivious to his growing fixation on the youngest sister, 11-year-old Autumn. The author relays her subsequent kidnapping suspensefully yet judiciously, conveying the terror Autumn experiences but only suggesting her actual molestation. Sharply delineated characters, engrossing narrative and Mazer's keen insight into the psychology of both stalker and victim keep the tension ratcheted way, way up. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

The man watches the five Herbert sisters on his way to work and decides which one to choose. Not the oldest, who is too tall; not the quiet one, who is skinny; and not the one who seems slow. The man likes either the sullen one or the youngest, with her long brown hair. For a long time, he observes but takes no action. Unaware that they are being scrutinized daily, the Herbert girls carry on with their lives. They go to school, engage in sisterly squabbles and joys, and try to cope in an impoverished household. Ranging in age from eleven to seventeen, the sisters are close and love each other. When their father decides for economic reasons to "lend" fourteen-year-old Stevie to a distant aunt, the girls are traumatized. Angry and sad, eleven-year-old Autumn goes for a walk and disappears, throwing the family into turmoil. Told from various points of view, this novel enables the reader to be inside the characters' minds, learning about them and their relationships. Most affecting is Autumn's voice, telling what it is like to be kidnapped and held prisoner. Without being graphic, Mazer ably conveys the terror, confusion, and fear experienced by an abducted child. The tension builds steadily until the denouement, making for a riveting read. Mazer again proves herself a superlative young adult novelist, crafting a story that is impossible to put down. By turns moving and frightening, this satisfying tale of sadness and bravery will appeal to students in grades seven and up. Reviewer: Rachelle Bilz
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

This book is reminiscent of Kate Atkinson's recent best-seller for adults, Case Studies. Five sisters live together in a seedy part of town. Almost every day they walk to school together. They range in age from 17 to 11. One is beautiful. One is quiet but competent. One apparently has Down syndrome. One is smart but plain. And one often feels overshadowed by her sisters. They live their lives, arguing with their parents, making plans, going through their joys and struggles. Meanwhile a man, an unnoticeable man who blends into the background wherever he goes, watches and evaluates them, feeling that they are a gift fate has given him, circling ever closer, deciding which one he will take home and keep. One by one, in his mind he eliminates each and settles on the girl he wants to keep and train as he has trained his cats. It should be noted that he has had several cats, all with the same names, and he had to go through several pairs before he found ones that pleased him. The rejected ones are buried in his backyard. Probably the same fate lies in store for the one girl he will pick from the Herbert family. Told from the alternating viewpoints of the sisters and the watcher in the shadows, the story is a psychological thriller as the man comes closer and closer to his prey. The story is creepy: these girls are living their lives unaware of the danger that lurks under a bland face right beside them. However, it ends on a hopeful note with a theme of self-empowerment. Age Range: Ages 15 to 18. REVIEWER: Myrna Marler (Vol. 42, No. 1)
Children's Literature - Denise Daley
The Herbert sisters are five average small town girls that lead a seemingly normal existence. Like any other American girls, they have concerns about boys, school, and growing up. Unlike many others, they have additional worries about things like their parent's health and the family's financial stability. Their father has not worked since he fell off of a roof and hurt his back, and their mother is obese and smokes too much. Things are so bad that their parents decide to loan one of the girls to Auntie Bernice. The family's problems go from bad to worse, however, when eleven-year-old Autumn suddenly disappears. A perverted middle-aged man has secretly been spying on the girls and obsessing over each of them. When an opportunity presents itself, he abducts Autumn and keeps her locked in his attic. The twisted psychopathic rationale that the abductor uses is alarming. This fast-paced book is scarier than most horror stories. It is proof that monsters live among us, disguised as humans. Reviewer: Denise Daley
Pam B. Cole
Five sisters—Beauty, Mim, Stevie, Fancy, and Autumn—live seemingly ordinarily lives. They argue and laugh together, worry about their family finances, and dream about boys. Unbeknownst to them, a man watches them walk to school daily and obsesses over which girl he likes most. When one sister, upset that her sister is being "shipped off" to live with an aunt for financial reasons, ventures onto the man's property by mistake, the man makes his choice, and the stage is set for a nightmare. The story alternates among the voices of the five sisters and the stalker. Mazer does an outstanding job building tension. From the onset the reader knows one girl will be taken, but the reader must follow Mazer's clues to determine which girl. In a unique twist, Mazer delivers one girl's perspective from second person point of view—a brilliant move, for the reader steps into the shoes of the predator's prey. This is a horrifying, yet realistic story that ends on a note of tenderness. Reviewer: Pam B. Cole
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up- This well-crafted thriller with mythic undertones plays on contemporary fears of psychopathic pedophiles, child abduction, and sexually motivated murder, but it also offers readers rewards beyond sensationalism. The central characters are five sisters, each with a distinct personality, who-taken as a group-provide a delightful composite. Sensible Beauty, the oldest, is inaptly named and longs for love; wise Mim keeps her own counsel; brave Stevie acts first and thinks later; Fancy is intellectually delayed, but emotionally centered; and Autumn, the youngest, doesn't yet have a sense of self and writes in the second-person singular. As their daily life unfolds, they are watched by today's predatory wolf, a lonely, nameless man who observes the girls with a growing obsession. The story is alternately told from the viewpoints of three of the sisters and the abductor, and much of the suspense comes from readers knowing more than any one character. When the stalker finally makes his move and kidnaps Autumn, the pace and anxiety amp up dramatically. Scenes between the child and her abductor are chilling, and the family's grief and guilt are devastating. But there is also wisdom here, as readers see how the crisis brings out greater depth and capacity in all five girls. It is Autumn, though, who must call on all the qualities "divided up" in her family in order to survive. This riveting story ultimately reassures readers that with determination, forethought, courage, and luck, even the youngest of children can meet overwhelming odds and find their way home again.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mazer's latest novel would give Alfred Hitchock a run for his money. The five Herbert sisters, who bear names evoking innocence (Beauty, Mim, Fancy, Autumn and Stevie), are observed by a nameless adult male who mentally sorts them to select one as prey. The acclaimed young-adult author tells her story from different points of view as each girl reveals secrets and dreams, but the stalker's creepy thought process, often covering fewer than two pages, is absolutely spellbinding. Mazer skillfully delineates the girls' emergence from childhood (one sister recalls skating on a frozen pond, another sews a button on a stuffed animal) by contrasting horrifying scenes of the abducted sister held prisoner by the predator. Short chapters move the story along at a brisk clip, but whispered secrets revealing love desires of two older sisters seemed to be a tacked-on device that fades away unresolved. These minor complaints are not a distraction, and a ten-second booktalk will ignite teen buzz for this outstanding work. (Fiction. YA)
—Marion Dane Bauer
“The story is stunning! It is tender, touching, horrifying . . . and brilliantly executed. The characters leap off the page.”
—Tim Wynne-Jones
“The Missing Girl is an urgent, daring, compassionate thriller. Put it down — I dare you!”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Missing Girl MOB

Chapter One

A Flock of Birds

If the man is lucky, in the morning on his way to work, he sees the girls. A flock of them, like birds. March is a dismal month, and the man's spirits often fall during this month of wet clouds and short gray days. He is hard put to remember that soon spring will return, but the sight of a cardinal or a chickadee...or the girls...reminds him of this. He is not one of those strange people who watch birds through binoculars, but the twittering and calls of even the jays, who are abominably noisy, is refreshing to him. As is the twittering and chatter of the girls.

One, two, three, four, five. Five of them. Five. A gratifying outcome of changing his route to work. Without being unduly self-congratulatory, because he is a modest man, he can take credit for this, as a result of his intelligence and careful planning. When his job description changed, he knew immediately that this meant he should no longer walk the same streets from his house to the bus stop to the store office. And though the route he had used for the past year was decidedly efficient, he changed it, proving once again that he was...he is...highly adaptable. It is the adaptable who survive in this beastly world.

It takes him seven minutes longer to walk the new way, but if one thing changes, then something else must change as well. This is a rule, the only way to maintain balance and order. The proof of the fundamental rightness of this rule is clear: changing the streets he walks to the bus stop each morning brought the girls into his life. An unexpected gift.

A reward, because he has been good for solong.

He has always liked schoolgirls, their open faces, their laughter, their innocence. Despite the fact that he has now seen these particular girls, his flock of birds, nearly a dozen times, not one of them has noticed him. Not one of them has flicked him so much as a glance. This is good. It's the way he wants it. He doesn't want to be noticed. It is safer to be, as he knows he is, unremarkable.

Slight of build, stoop shouldered, wearing a gray coat, a gray scarf around his neck against the cold, his wire-rimmed glasses set firmly on his nose, minding his own business, he could be any man, any respectable, ordinary man.

The Missing Girl MOB. Copyright © by Norma Mazer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Marion Dane Bauer
“The story is stunning! It is tender, touching, horrifying . . . and brilliantly executed. The characters leap off the page.”

Meet the Author

Norma Fox Mazer, who lives in Montpelier, Vermont, has written nearly thirty novels and short-story collections for young adults. Her novels, including Missing Pieces, Out of Control, Girlhearts, and the Newbery Honor Book After the Rain, are critically acclaimed and popular among young readers for their portrayal of teens.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The Missing Girl 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was very slow starting out and a bit boring. I did not like how the story was written. The author jumped around a lot. Not what I was expecting. I would not recommend.
Cassandra_JahLove More than 1 year ago
Though I did like the book, I felt like I didn't get to know the characters very well. There were just too many characters throughout the story, and I didn't feel very emotionally attached to the sister who got kidnapped, the book seemed to focus more on Beauty, the older sister, rather than Autumn, the kidnapped one. And then it seemed her escape happened too quickly, there was no building up to it, no suspense it just kind of happened. I did enjoy reading it though, and i still recommend it.
Mikayla Barrett More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I suggest that every one read it. A predator and prey. If you love the adventury escape kidnappy books this is a mix of all 3
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hi. I thought this book was pretty good. Of course the beginning was a little boring but it got good. I wish the story would have had a better ending to it but overall it was good. The characters had so much personality. But overall, a must read =]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book isn’t as long , I feel like it's the right amount of pages for me. This book consists of short chapters, in each of the chapters we get to meet the different sisters. I love how in the book each of the sisters are very different, and we get an image of each of the sisters. You may be able to relate to any of the sisters in this book in a way. This book describes most of the characters with depht. However, I didn’t like how the book was unrealistic at times like when Autumn escaped. I would like if the moment of tension, which was when Autumn got kidnapped lasted longer, and that her escape were to be more complicated and more realistic. I would of also liked if there were a better, and longer ending. I would recommend this book to teens who love to read mystery, and drama. This book keeps you interested to see what's going to happen next. It gets you asking so many question what action is the creepy weird man going to take? Would the girls ever find out he is stalking to them?How? Would their parents ever change? How would Autumn escape?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is non reading when I first started to read this book it was somewhat boring. When I got deeper into the book she was bouncing off the walls.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Missions will be given out here
Tiffany1 More than 1 year ago
I thought the was a very good book, and it kept on getting better as you read the book. There was a lot of parts in the book that got very intense, and it kept on making you want to read. And when I read a book that's what I like. Most of the things that happened in the book, it actually could happen in real life. If you like mysterious books, then I think you should read this book! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was gripping and completely unpredictable (which i love). The alternate protagonists adds even more to a gut wrenching story about our worst fears.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot seemed underdeveloped, and I lost my interest quickly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm about 20 pages into this book when it started to come to me, ' I recognize these characters!'. It takes me a little while but it's the poem on page 35 that helps me remember. See, I'm an avid reader so it's often that coincidences like this happen. But I have to know, did anyone else notice that Beauty is the star of another story? In the anthology, ' Such a Pretty Face', Norma Fox Mazer writes a story called 'how to survive a name.' This of course features one of the main charaters from this book, Beauty Herbert, and her being ugly. This is kinda funny because how I have to see which came first! Both 'the missing girl' and Norma Fox Mazer's short story are amazing:)
dancer543 More than 1 year ago
There are four sister just going about their normal lives while the entire time there is a man stalking them trying to figure out which one to take. It's pretty creepy, but it's really interesting how the author writes the book from the two different perspectives of the girls lives.
Susan Quirk More than 1 year ago
Honestly it lead it up to be something way better. Waste of time. Seemed like there was no p oint or plot to the thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
becccr_boo More than 1 year ago
it goes from different perspectives, which makes it more of a thriller and you cant stop reading. it also never had a part that made me want to stop reading; never dull. its around a 7th grade reading level but honestly i think its good for any teen to read. the author did a fantastic job creating "The Missing Girl"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marcelyn Shuler More than 1 year ago
You just had to write out the entire plot it's so rude.Four stars for the book and a slap in the face to you.
Amy Armet More than 1 year ago
I don't even have to read the book. Someone decided to write the whole story down in their review. I personally think that those people are abusing the review and should not write anymore of them. I love to read but dont think there is a point to read somethung for the first time if you alreafy know the ending. The dtory is no longer interesting and any review written by someone who read that review would be thinking on those terms, not their own. By telling the whole plot the book becomes boring. I feel bad for any writer who has experienced this because they have less people reading their book then they should have. My point is STOP TELLING THE WHOLE STORY WHEN YOU WRITE A REVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!! I gave the author five stars because this is not fair to them or the people who probably would have read this, namely ME!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tina Ortiz More than 1 year ago
this book was a little odd and wriiten with poor taste but the story was a good quick read and the ending was dry.
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