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The Night My Sister Went Missing

The Night My Sister Went Missing

4.1 11
by Carol Plum-Ucci

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A tiny pistol, passed from friend to friend at a party on an abandoned pier, suddenly fires—and Casey Carmody falls into the water below. Kurt, Casey’s older brother, endures a seemingly endless night at the police station while the coast guard searches for his sister and his friends are questioned, one by one.Was the gunfire accidental or deliberate?


A tiny pistol, passed from friend to friend at a party on an abandoned pier, suddenly fires—and Casey Carmody falls into the water below. Kurt, Casey’s older brother, endures a seemingly endless night at the police station while the coast guard searches for his sister and his friends are questioned, one by one.Was the gunfire accidental or deliberate? Or was the whole drama one of Casey’s practical jokes? And where is Casey—or her body—now?

Includes an interview with the author and a reader’s guide.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Plum-Ucci can tell a heck of a story. . . . [Readers will] race to the ending and won’t guess it until they get there."—Booklist

VOYA - Anita Beaman
Fifteen-year-old Casey Carmody is shot while partying on the pier. Disappearing over the edge, she is lost from sight in the dark tides. Rescue services are unable to locate her, and Casey's brother Kurt spends the remainder of the night alone in the police station, waiting for his out-of-town parents. In the police station, forbidden to join the search for his sister, Kurt is joined by his best friend. Sent to a hallway outside the station's new interrogation room, the boys discover that the speakers in the room have been left on, and they are able to listen to the statements of everyone on the pier that night. The boys spend the night eavesdropping on one interview after another and are never discovered. Casey's disappearance and Kurt's agony draw the reader into the story from page one, but clunky dialogue and an improbable plot device will put off some readers. They will be bothered by the unlikelihood of this occurrence; others may simply accept it and move on with the story. Plum-Ucci's previous works, The Body of Christopher Creed (Harcourt, 2000/VOYA August 2000) and What Happened to Lani Garver (2002/VOYA December 2002), make her a must-read for fans of young adult mysteries. Unfortunately many will be disappointed in this latest novel. The premise is intriguing, and in fact, the story is engrossing, but readers will find that Plum-Ucci revisits many of the same themes she has better explored in previous works. Not this author's strongest effort, this one will have teen appeal, but those looking for good, quality mysteries should stick to her earlier works.
Children's Literature
The Mystic Marvels, a group of teens living in a small, quiet beach town, are hanging out at an abandoned pier when suddenly a gunshot is heard. Fifteen-year-old Casey falls into the water…and disappears. Her 17-year-old brother, Kurt, follows the goings-on while a frantic search for Casey takes place. Since Kurt's best friend is a policeman's son, they are able to watch, unnoticed, as other teens (and several adults) give their accounts (and theories) of what happened, and why. The numerous players include Stacy, the mysterious girl with a rich, checkered family who harbors feelings for Kurt; Mark, a high school grad who's been involved with both Stacy and Casey (despite Kurt's dislike and distrust of him); Stacy's ill-reputed, estranged dad; Stacy's wealthy grandpa who funds many of the island's folks (including Kurt's writer-dad); and a fortune-teller named Crazy Addie. As events and testimonies unfold, Kurt discovers that Stacy is pregnant and that she bought the gun, begging the questions: who's the father, and why did she buy a weapon? Other mysteries abound: Was Casey, in fact, shot? And if so, why and by whom? Why was no splash heard when she fell, and no blood found? Suffice it to say, the answers involve jealousy, mistaken identities, and even incest. A complicated, intricate puzzle of a page-turner, this book is an intriguing guessing game. Nevertheless since it is peppered with bad language and includes incest, teen pregnancy, and suicide, it is recommended solely for mature readers. 2006, Harcourt, Ages 14 to 17.
—Naomi Milliner
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-It's the middle of the night in a small New Jersey beach town, and Kurt Carmody, 17, has questions about what happened minutes ago at the pier, when a shot was heard and his 15-year-old sister, Casey, plunged (or dove?) off and disappeared. Why did erratic Stacy Kearney bring a gun to the pier-and why are so many of Kurt's friends eager to point the finger at her? What does any of it have to do with rumors that Stacy is pregnant and that Casey's boyfriend may be the father, or that Stacy's pig of a father is a blight on the town and her rich mother a cheating drug addict? Kurt's hour-by-hour narration takes readers from the town's police station to the pitch-black beach, where choppers search the waters. In classic crime-fiction style, Kurt pieces together the night, eavesdropping on statements, questioning key figures, and trying to make sense of Stacy's increasingly disturbing backstory-all the while questioning human nature, his friendships, and his post-high-school plans. Plum-Ucci struggles with pace early on, and her supporting characters are one-dimensional. While the mystery is engrossing and the dramatic ending satisfying, if overdone, it is Kurt's emotional growth that forms the heart of the story and has the most to offer readers. Fans of the author's novels or crime fiction in general will welcome this addition to the genre.-Riva Pollard, The Winsor School Library, Boston Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Shots fired from a gun passed hand-to-hand around a group of teens on a rickety dock are blamed for the disappearance and possible death of Casey Carmody, the impulsive younger sister of Kurt, the popular member of the in-crowd. Witnesses claim Casey fell or dove into the ocean after the gun went off, so Kurt and his best friend Drew spend one long night eavesdropping on the police as they question Kurt's friends at the station and search for the body along the beach. Truths, lies, jealousy and rumors all come out in the wash in this occasionally tedious and preachy offering from a Printz Honor author. Plum-Ucci resurrects many themes that will be already be familiar to her fans: disappearance, the hurtful effects of gossip and lies, the power of the teen peer group, the ocean as a source of mystery and danger and the idea of convenient recollection. Though relevant, here they barely escape coming off as recycled, rather than reinvented. Characterizations feel less realized than previous works. However, Plum-Ucci's mastery at intensifying their observations into something dire and ominous speeds the plot along and should keep readers wondering just how this convoluted mystery will wrap up. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Read an Excerpt

The night my sister went missing, I sat in a back corridor of the police station, staring at a tinted glass window to an inner room. The lights were off in there, and so the window looked like a black screen. I remember how my insides felt as blank as that window. It’s a good thing, that numbness, because it keeps you from spiraling into the black-hole-falling routine. Something’s telling you that you don’t need those panic-stricken thoughts yet.
No body had washed up. The police hadn’t found any blood on the pier near the spot where Casey went over. The gunshot, which had sounded more like a weather-wet firecracker, could not possibly have hit one of Casey’s vital organs. Of course, there are always the thoughts that threaten you—like how blood in the ocean draws sharks, and how a storm at sea had created endless riptides this week. But thoughts like that bounce in the first hours after your shock.
The good thoughts strike you and stick. Like, my sister was probably a better swimmer than I was, even though I was a lifeguard. And I thought of Casey having so many friends. None of our friends had any streak of violence. No one had any reason to hurt her.
It had been too dark to see anything but a few clusters of our friends up on the pier in silhouette, and I tried hard not to put anything in my mind that wasn’t real.
The gun had been real, whether I liked it or not. But it was a stupid little collector’s gun, a derringer, or “lady’s pistol,” as my buddies called it, brought to a dune party as a joke. It all seemed surreal now. And all of it smelled of “accident.” Nobody who’d sneaked up on the old pier with us would intentionally hurt Casey. Nobody.
Maybe this was all a big prank that had gone over the top. I thought of Casey painting “drops of blood” out of the cafeteria this year, and also pulling the fire alarm to relieve friends from a couple of boring classes. Maybe she was holed up on some sailboat in the back bay, laughing her airhead butt off, ignorant that the coast guard and the police were searching the ocean around the pier.
I hadn’t seen or heard much in the light of a half-covered moon—except I’d still swear I heard Casey’s laugh, and it was after the little Crack!
I’d been able to relay all that over the phone to our parents in a miraculous calm. Still, they were scrambling to catch the red-eye back from L.A., where my dad had been in film negotiations with Paramount. It was the first time one of his novels had been optioned by a movie company—and the first time our parents had left me and Casey alone overnight since we were fourteen and twelve. I was now seventeen, and I stared at that tinted glass window, seeing Dad’s cockeyed grin in it and hearing his speech about how he trusted a twelve- and a fourteen-year-old home alone far more than he trusted a fifteen- and a seventeen-year-old.
He had tried to tempt us. “Come on, Kurt . . . maybe I’ll strike it rich finally. You kids need to be there. And you and Casey could do Disneyland, while—”
I had stopped him right there. The “rich” part would have struck me better ten years ago, when I was first getting sick of peanut butter sandwiches for lunch seven days a week. By now I was immune to the midlist author no-frills life, and I started blathering about my job on the beach patrol. I probably could have got time off for a Monday through Thursday—it’s weekends that are sacred for lifeguards. But my job was a good enough excuse to balk at leaving Mystic in the middle of July. The previous summer Mom and Dad had wanted to take Casey and me to the Greek isles for ten days, after my dad finally got a better-than-average royalty check. My very first thought had been, Can we take friends? I didn’t ask. I just made excuses until they dropped the whole idea—my point being that if the Greek isles can’t tempt a guy away from summer fun ’n’ games, Disneyland surely isn’t gonna cut it. Not that fun ’n’ games is anything too awful.
I had sworn up and down, while Dad was deciding to let us stay home alone, that we wouldn’t do anything stupid, and I still felt that I had held up my end of that bargain. Mostly.
All we’d done wrong was go to a dune party. My mom and dad wouldn’t object to us going to a house party while they were gone. But a dune party was different. No chance of adults, good chance of a raid by the cops . . . and of course there were always the daredevils, loadies, and lovers who would risk going up on the burned-out old pier. No matter how many times the cops removed the metal climbing spikes from its scorched pilings, more would be found hammered in a week or so later.
We were all just goofing around, risking a rip-tear out on the least scorched portion of the pier’s planking, because it was fun, because of the horror tales about the place, because most people were partied so loose that if a couple of them fell through and hit the waves, they probably wouldn’t feel it. I guessed we’d forgotten about the storm at sea and how big the rips were.
And I guessed the partying wasn’t so good, either. But millions of kids party, and hundreds of kids had climbed up on the pier in the past twenty years, weather not a consideration. Their sisters don’t get shot by some dinky “lady’s pistol” and fall into the surf with barely a splash. That was the weirdest. Through the deepest, darkest corners of my memory, I still kept digging for the sound of a splash. I couldn’t find it.
Your numbness, your denial, might make you have a flash of Peter Pan saving Wendy from walking the plank. I conjured up images of Captain Hook and Mr. Smeed listening for the splash after Wendy walked the plank, but I couldn’t find a splash after Casey fell backward.
But then, Peter Pan hadn’t wandered over to the New Jersey barrier islands to catch Casey Carmody midfall off the old fishing pier. That much, you can grasp. The theory of ghosts doesn’t work well either, suddenly. When my dad was a kid, the old fishing pier, which is actually pretty big, had been turned into The Haunt, an amusement pier with an enormous haunted mansion exhibit at the entrance. It had been a “megaproduction,” as Dad called it, employing half the eighteen-year-olds on the island to dress up like vampires and headless ghouls and jump out at summer tourists and their kids. But The Haunt loomed on the far south end of a barrier island, with only a small toll bridge at the far north end. The island couldn’t hack the traffic that The Haunt needed to survive. About twenty years ago it went bankrupt, and legend has it that some kid was under the pier lighting off firecrackers and that’s how the fire started. No one really knows for sure. It wasn’t a good enough story to attract the attention of kids in high school. Sightings of vampires hovering over the burned-out foundation of the haunted house, plus two tales of the suicides off there—one in the eighties and one in the nineties—those things drew kids to the place like the moon draws water.
But island lore about “sightings of the suicide victims” and “the vampires who made them do it” didn’t fit the mood in the police station, where I now found myself. Spooks are for fun in the dark. This place was lit and immaculate and stinking of floor soap, and right now, all too quiet, what with the entire police force out on the beach.

Copyright © 2006 by Carol Plum-Ucci

Author interview copyright © 2008 by Carol Plum-Ucci

Reader’s guide copyright © 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Meet the Author

CAROL PLUM-UCCI is the acclaimed author of The Body of Christopher Creed, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. She lives in New Jersey.

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Night My Sister Went Missing 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Carol Plum-Ucci is a phenomenal writer who mixes elements of thrillers, mysteries, and problem novels with great success. In her latest, THE NIGHT MY SISTER WENT MISSING, she covers familiar territory from earlier novels without costing the story a suspenseful edge or satisfying conclusion. With her usual cast of sympathetic characters, readers are drawn into the story and feel as if they have a stake in the outcome.

The narrator, Kurt Carmody, learns the details of his sister's disappearance while eavesdropping on an interrogation room at police headquarters. Although there were many people there when Casey Carmody vanished, including Kurt himself, each witness' testimony is limited by personal bias against the main suspect, Stacy Kearn. Stacy and her father appear to be guilty of several crimes as well as an assortment of inappropriate personality quirks. Yet readers are wise not to rush to judgment in the story. No one and nothing is as it appears, neither those under suspicion for Casey's disappearance nor those who rush to help her and claim innocence. Like her earlier novels, particularly THE BODY OF CHRISTOPHER CREED and WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER, Plum-Ucci creates a realistic sense of community guilt for the mysterious, tragic events in the lives of teenagers. Those who are viewed as outsiders and are made to feel unwelcome suffer for the intolerance of others. This message rings through the novels closing chapters without overpowering the reader.

As in previous novels, the author tackles community myths and legends in order to show that there's usually a logical reason behind so-called paranormal events. Although the ghost of a suicide victim is given short-play in this novel, this subplot is engaging enough to leave the reader in doubt about the nature of Casey's disappearance until the novel's conclusion. There may be no better mystery writer in today's market for maintaining tension without sacrificing realistic endings than Ms. Plum-Ucci.

Five stars. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book, "The night my sister went missing" was a very mysterious book. The plot being a very dark theme involving the possible death of Casey Carmody, sister to Kurt Carmody. The story revolves around Kurt, and how he tries to figure out if Casey is either pulling a prank, or has really past away from a bullet at a dune party. At the dune party, Stacey Kearn brought a pistol so small, it was believed to be a toy, and after all the kids touched the gun, a shot was fired in the direction of Casey. I felt that Kurt was a very believable character, being very nervous, and not believing the the possibility that Casey is dead. I'd feel that I could sympathize for Kurt's possible loss, since if I lost my sister, there'd be a chance that I'd do the same actions he did. The point of the story is that even though one person, in this case, Stacey, could be blamed, said person could possibly not be the baddie. I feel as if this book if best suitable for teens, and adults who are interested in mystery, due to use of language, and some... themes. I liked the book, since the whole plot was well developed with the whole fact that Kurt Carmody's sister could be either dead, or alive... a perfect mystery for those interested
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Night My Sister Went Missing is a captivating book because it keeps you in suspense and you are always wondering what will happen next. After partying with friends a shot rings out and Kurt Carmondy's little sister Casey goes missing. As the police search for Casey, Kurt is at the police station listening to people that are being questioned. While he sits and listens he learns many new things about Stacey Kearny, a girl from school, which leaves him shocked. I think Kurt was very believable and I sympathized with him because it was a very tragic situation for anyone to be going through. The message I received from this book is to never judge a book by it's cover because you never know what happens on the inside. I feel this book is best suited for older teens and adults because of inappropriate language and content. I liked this book because I am very interested in mysteries and detective books.
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The book that I read was The Night My Sister went missing. And it is by Carol Plum-UCCI. I think that the reason she wrote this book is because she tells what can happen at stupid parties and how parties can be dangerous. She wrote this book because she is known to capture the world of teens while seamlessly combining reality with the supernatural.

She chose the group twelve and older and I think that she is trying to get kids who are twelve and are going to become teenagers soon to know all the kinds of things that can go wrong at a party. Teens hanging out, little bear, and smoke just another teen party she¿s talking about. This story is told by Kurt Carmody which is the brother of the missing sister. I think that it is good for the brother to tell his perspective on how he thinks what has happened.

The author interpreted them all in a different way. Kurt is kind of a laid back kind of person and Casey is a risk taker. Of course there is going to be a girl that is having a troubled life which is Stacy and the thing that you will find out about her family will blow you away. The timing on things in the book somehow doesn¿t add up the way you think it will. There are a lot of twists and turns before you can actually get to the conclusion. I think that this is really accurate to real life because this kind of stuff does happen at some parties.

I felt kind of sad for Kurt because what he has to go through and it drastically changes his life forever. I think the character that I connect with the most is Casey because I am a big risk taker and I love challenging myself on whatever it may be. The author did a great job with everything that she wrote. Most of the stuff that she wrote about the book was true about the parties. I think that I did learn a lot of things from the author because now if I were to go to a party I would be aware of my surroundings because disaster could strike at any time.

There are some other books that she wrote and they are all compared with the supernatural and strong characters. The books are: The she, What happened to Lani Garver, and The body of Christopher Creed. I think that the book title engages you to want to read it. Your thinking where did she go? Was she kidnapped?

With this book I would probably recommend it to early teenagers because to show them what could happen if you¿re not careful. I found this book really engaging! I just couldn¿t put it down. I really wanted to see what was going to happen now. For me I really didn¿t like the ending I thought that it would have ended differently that it had. I wanted a more thrilling ending. I would probably give it a four star rating because I didn¿t like the ending. If the ending was different then I would have gave it a five star. I think that a good quote that it had was: ¿No body washed up. The police hadn¿t found any blood in the pier near the spot where Casey went over.¿ It gives you a hint on what is going to come but at the same time it kind of leaves you hanging. But all in all I really enjoyed this book and I hope you will too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Night My Sister Went Missing By: Carol Plum-Ucci I thought this book was not a very good mystery book because it drags it out a little to much, there is a little to much non-sense about Kurt. But I still agree with its message, not to be so judgmental of people, even if you think you know them really well. This book is told in second person, by Kurt, the boy whose sister went missing. I think it was important for him to tell the story because he was going through a lot of problems with his sister missing and questioning things in his life. A lot of teens begin to do the same thing toward the end of high school, so I think if it had been written from another characters point of view it would have been a little to harsh for a lot of readers. This author wrote a story that quite a few young adults go through in this time period so it was very realistic and easy to relate to. I connected most with Kurt because sometimes I don¿t feel like I really know if I¿m doing what I want or what other people want me to do, just like Kurt did. I believe that this authors reason for writing this book was because it shows how judgmental teens can be and how they jump to conclusions without really thinking. I think this author was very successful in getting across the point that she was trying to make about this story. I learned that you can¿t make assumptions about people because they could be a completely different person from how they act around you. I think this book was mainly written for the young adult age group. They are the ones who usually need a lot of advice, and this story does give you some advice. I felt that this books ending was partly predictable and partly not. Over all I think that it was the best part of the book. The Night My Sister Went Missing was a good title for the book. It makes the readers want to find out what happens, so they want to read it. It also ties in with the story very well. This book reminded me somewhat of the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. In Speak Mel had a rape secret that she didn¿t tell anyone like Stacey did, the girls just dealt with it in different ways. I would recommend this book to people who like mystery book but don¿t care if they are kind of dragged out, because that¿s exactly what this book does, drags and drags and drags out the good stuff until the very end. I would rate this book a two and half out of five stars. It was a good book but it could have done without so much nonsense about Kurt. It could have focused more about Stacey and Casey, and maybe told a little more about Stacey¿s life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think the book ¿The Night My Sister Went Missing¿ is a great mystery book to read. Usually I¿m never interested in reading books but something about this book grabbed my attention. Some ways this book grabbed my attention was the description and details, the book cover and the title. Kurt is a senior and his sister, Casey is a freshman. Kurt blames himself for what happened to Casey but it¿s not his fault. Casey is a good actor and likes to play a lot of jokes but we don¿t know if what happened at the pier was a joke or was serious. Mark was Casey¿s boyfriend but before Casey he was going out with Stacy. Stacy is a junior that brought a gun to the pier that night. The gun was passed around.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Night My Sister Went Missing is a realistic book by Carol Plum-Ucci. I think that this book was a good book. It was realistic which was what I liked about it. It kept you going as you read it you just want to know what happens next. The book took place in a police station and the park that the kids always hang out. A girl named Casey went missing after a night of fun at the park. No body can find her and friends and family are getting questioned. Casey¿s sister didn¿t know what was going on when she woke up at the police station. She didn¿t know why she was there, but soon found out that her sister went missing. This story was told from Casey¿s sisters¿ point of view. The book was easy to understand. You didn¿t have to keep reading things over to understand what was written. This book will give you an understanding of what dangers can come from ¿partying¿. I recommend this book to people who like to read realistic books because what happens in this book can also happen in real life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very intriguing to me, and picks you up right from the start. It begins as an average high school senior Kurt Carmody is at a party on a pier with his small hometown friends. All of the sudden, a gun shot goes off, and his sister, an island known daredevil, Casey, is nowhere to be found. A large portion of the book after this is spent as Kurt looks on with his friend Drew as the island police interrogate his friends. It was very interesting to me how the author portrayed human behavior, and replicated the feelings of many teenagers so well. Many of Kurt¿s feelings are expressed throughout the book. Another main character that plays a huge part in this novel is Stacy Kearny. The author unravels her story in a way that you really don¿t know what to think of her until the climax of the book. Many secrets are told that Kurt and his seaside town may wish they didn¿t hear. This story is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat wanting more. The only weakness that I found in this book is that it was little too short for my tastes. Overall, this is a good book to read if you want mystery and suspense. I highly recommend it.