Nobody's There
  • Nobody's There
  • Nobody's There

Nobody's There

4.3 9
by Joan Lowery Nixon

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For fans of Gillian Flynn, Caroline Cooney, and R.L. Stine comes Nobody’s There from four-time Edgar Allen Poe Young Adult Mystery Award winner Joan Lowery Nixon.
        Furious at her father for breaking up their family, Abbie Thompson acted without thinking and got arrested for malicious mischief. Now the

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For fans of Gillian Flynn, Caroline Cooney, and R.L. Stine comes Nobody’s There from four-time Edgar Allen Poe Young Adult Mystery Award winner Joan Lowery Nixon.
        Furious at her father for breaking up their family, Abbie Thompson acted without thinking and got arrested for malicious mischief. Now the judge has assigned her to volunteer in a program that matches teens with the elderly. But Abbie doesn’t get just any elderly person. She gets Edna Merkel, a cranky, difficult woman who’s a member of the town’s crime prevention group. In fact, Mrs. Merkel is too active a member, and after she brags that she’s on to something big, she is attacked and ends up hospitalized. Suddenly the private investigator game is real, and only Abbie—with the help of Mrs. Merkel’s indecipherable notebook—can figure out who did it. But will Abbie get to the assailant before the assailant gets to her?
“Fast-paced and involving.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Well drawn and distinct…Nixon’s fans will no doubt enjoy.” –School Library Journal
“Another great mystery.” –VOYA

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Teenagers are always getting the short end of the stick; life is so totally unfair. It is bad enough that Abbie must endure the emotional roller coaster caused when her dad leaves the family for another woman. Abbie's temper flared over that; she got just a little impulsive, which in turn found her charged with malicious mischief. To clear her name, the judge offers a volunteer opportunity. Abbie must join a community service group, pairing senior citizens with high schoolers, and check up on her "assignment" at least once a week. As Abbie is assigned to the notorious Mrs. Merkel, an amateur investigator, and she initially hangs in there to clear her own name. As this fast-paced mystery unfolds, Abbie may be the only one who can also save Mrs. Merkel from a mysterious assailant. 2000, Delacorte, $15.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2000: For fans of Nixon's mysteries, here is another one—light reading. Much is hard to believe, and Nixon relies on stereotyping for the selfish divorced father and his new girlfriend. Abbie is the main character, a junior in high school, who gets caught throwing a rock at the window where her father's girlfriend lives. She is forced to do a year of community service, which connects her to an elderly woman who needs a driver. This woman is crabby, insulting, and stubborn. She also is obsessed with tracking down criminals. She leads police to men running a scam that hurts old people; she gathers evidence against a woman involved in embezzlement; and she finds a man employing illegal aliens. She drags Abbie into these investigating activities. One day Abbie finds Mrs. Merkel injured and unconscious. She calls the police and ambulance, and while the old woman is in the hospital, Abbie determines to find out who tried to kill her. Nixon transforms Abbie from a self-pitying adolescent going through her parents' nasty separation at the beginning to a much more confident young woman at the end—a transformation adolescent readers will approve of. Abbie's relationships with her mother and younger brother are also appealing. The fact that there is a somewhat cardboard quality to all the characters, and that the mystery is a stretch, won't hurt its popularity with Nixon's many readers. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Random House, Dell Yearling, 200p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Claire Rosser
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
When Abbie Thompson saw her father leave the apartment with a young woman on his arm she was so angry she threw stones at the window. Because of her "malicious mischief" Abbie was sentenced to take part in a program to help elderly women, called Friend to Friend. She was assigned to stubborn, cranky Mrs. Merkel. When Mrs. Merkel learns the police would like the help of Senior Citizens in watching out for crime, she takes on the role wholeheartedly and places herself and Abbie in danger. Abbie arrives at Mrs. Merkel's and finds her in a coma on the floor. Who attempted to kill the old woman? She certainly had many enemies! Abbie decodes Mrs. Merkel's notebook and uses her skills of observation and deduction to solve the mystery. Along the way, she learns how to help her brother cope with their father's estrangement. Well-developed and interesting characters combine with a fast-moving plot to make good vacation reading. 2000, Delacorte Press, Ages 11 to 14, $15.95. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
VOYA - Voya Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Abbie Thompson's father buys a fancy sports car, tells Abbie's mother that he feels nothing for her or their life, and moves out, only to be seen with another woman by Abbie and her brother. Abbie gets mad--so angry that she follows her father and throws a stone through the picture window of the home of her father's new love after seeing the two leave. Abbie is arrested for her action and sentenced to perform community service as a friend to a senior citizen. Her assignment with the adventurous Mrs. Merkel would try the patience of an angel--she has already fired two other teens assigned to her. Abbie sticks it out, driving Mrs. Merkel everywhere as she uncovers several crimes and is pursued by many people. Mrs. Merkel is attacked and ends up in the hospital before the bad guys are caught and a mystery solved. Although some dialogue is stilted and preachy, the story line will engage the reader. The characters are real, from the self-absorbed father to the wonderful, either-hate-her-or-love-her Mrs. Merkel. The events leading up to the mystery are believable and will be something to which many teens can relate--a single-parent home, a younger sibling, and everyone working through brewing emotions resulting from the breakup of a marriage. This is another great mystery offering from one of young adult literature's best. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Delacorte, Ages 12 to 15, 200p, $15.95. Reviewer: Melissa Thacker
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-When her father leaves the family because he is "not being fulfilled," 17-year-old Abbie Thompson feels the rejection acutely. Full of anger and frustration, she follows him and his new girlfriend and, in a fit of rage, throws a rock through the woman's window. This impulsive act lands Abbie in court, and her probation includes service with "Friend to Friend," a support group that matches teenage girls with elderly women in the community. Abbie's assignment turns out to be one Edna Merkel, a cantankerous, outspoken woman who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Abbie finds herself an unwilling accomplice as Mrs. Merkel brags that she is "on to something big." When the woman is attacked, hospitalized, and unable to speak, Abbie realizes that perhaps her elderly companion was on to something. It is now up to her, armed with the sleuth's almost indecipherable notebook, to find out who attacked Mrs. Merkel, and why. Although this novel includes a mystery, it is more a coming-of-age story. The main characters are generally well drawn and distinct, and there is a hint of a possible romance that will keep readers' attention. Nixon's fans will no doubt enjoy Abbie's story, but many will miss the taut psychological suspense found in many of her previous novels.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Abbie Thompson is having a rough year—her professor father has left Abbie's mother for a younger woman, her mother is depressed, and her little brother is angry all the time. To top it all off, Abbie is being punished for one of the stupidest things she's ever done in all of her 17 years. After following her father to his girlfriend's house and seeing them kiss, Abbie angrily threw rocks through the girlfriend's window, smashing the glass and getting herself arrested. The judge assigns Abbie, a conscientious and usually law-abiding girl, to a volunteer program that matches up teenagers with elderly women to keep them company, help them run errands, and generally keep an eye on the older women. Perhaps to remind Abbie that this is meant to be punishment, Abbie is assigned to a particularly cantankerous, demanding old woman, Edna Merkel, who makes Abbie's life miserable with her demands and unpredictable moods. When Mrs. Merkel becomes involved in a group that sets out to thwart con men who target senior citizens, she puts herself and her young companion in danger. While the story is fast-paced and involving, many of the characterizations are weak and one-dimensional. Abbie is too much of a pushover, letting herself be manipulated by Mrs. Merkel to an unrealistic extent. The father is so insensitive and so uncaring about his children that it strains credulity; and Mrs. Merkel is so nasty, rude, and selfish that it's hard to believe anyone would put up with her behavior for more than a few days. A readable story, but certainly not Nixon at her best. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Age Range:
10 Years

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Trembling, her legs so wobbly it was hard to stand, Abbie Thompson clung to the rough trunk of an oak tree and waited for her father to appear. As a garish yellow porch light over the nearest apartment suddenly gleamed, Abbie sucked in her breath and slid farther back into the darkness behind the wide tree trunk.

Abbie knew she shouldn't be here. She shouldn't be spying. She'd die if her father saw her. Fearing to be seen, she had pulled a scarf over her strawberry-blond hair, which was light enough to stand out in the darkness. She must not be caught lurking, but she had to know. She had to!

The door of the apartment opened, and Davis Thompson stepped out, hand in hand with a young, very pretty, dark-haired woman. Both of them tall, trim, and attractive, they moved as though they knew they were an exceptionally good-looking pair. Laughing, they drew close to each other, and he bent to kiss her.

It was a light, quick kiss, but Abbie doubled

over in pain. It felt as if someone had socked her

hard in the stomach.

She watched her father and the woman run to his low-slung red sports car. Before she could react, before she could think, the car had driven away.

Abbie let herself slide to the ground, sitting cross-legged in the dark. She stared at the stillbright front window of the apartment, hating the woman who lived there and hating her father.

All through the seventeen years of her life, Davis Thompson had called Abbie "Daddy's girl," and she had loved this special nickname. He had been a real daddy then. He'd played ball with her and gone to her Fathers' Night dinners at school and applauded her piano playing at recitals. Lately, though, he had become so different that Abbie wondered if he could possibly be the same person.

Davis Thompson known to nearly everyone in the south Gulf Coast town of Buckler, Texas, as Dr. Davis Thompson, professor of English at Buckler College suddenly dyed his hair to cover the gray at his temples, wore expensive sports coats over cashmere turtleneck sweaters, bought a car that would fit a movie star's lifestyle, and walked out on his family.

"You must understand, Sandra, I'm not being fulfilled any longer," her father had told Abbie's mother just before he left. "Life should be rich and complete.''

"Davis, are you serious?" Mrs. Thompson's

voice had wavered with shock.

He raised his voice as if he were arguing not only with her, but with himself. "I've given this sincere and weighty consideration," he said. "For a long time I've felt that my life here is nothing."

Frozen in the hallway, Abbie couldn't help overhearing the conversation. She had gasped and leaned against the wall for support. Mom and Davy and she were nothing?

"Is there someone else?" Abbie's mother had asked. Her voice came out raspy and choked, and she had to ask the question again.

"Be reasonable," Dr. Thompson had said. "It wasn't working with us. You know that."

"No, I didn't know. I thought . . . well . your moodiness . . . I mean, when you didn't get the promotion to department head, I assumed .

"Perhaps I would have got it, if I'd had more support from you," Dr. Thompson had snapped.

"More support?" Mrs. Thompson's voice had risen. "After all I've done But the back door had slammed shut. Realizing that her father had left, Abbie had run to cling to her mom.

Now Abbie dug her fingers into the circle of freshly turned earth that surrounded the tree. As her hands slid over the ring of small, smooth stones that bordered the circle, she whispered to her absent father over and over, "How could you not want us? How could you?''

She tried to look away from the lighted apartment window. Behind the golden glow lived the woman with the dark hair, the woman who had kissed her father.

The pain in Abbie's mind and body turned to an anger hot and intense. Breathing heavily, she unconsciously gripped the stones, pulling them from their ring as she rose to her feet. She stepped out from under the wide limbs of the oak, aimed at the window, and threw the stones as hard as she could.

"I hate you! I hate you!" she yelled.

The glass smashed, gold-red splinters flying to each side like starbursts. There was a moment of total silence, as though the air had stopped moving. Then a young woman in a robe, her blond hair wet and stringy, ran screaming from the apartment. Doors of other apartments opened, and people scurried out, scrambling without direction like ants whose hill has been disturbed. A beefy man in his undershirt grabbed Abbie's arms. A plump woman kept yelling that she had called the police.

Abbie stood numbly, the red anger draining from her mind and body, as she tried to remember what she had done.

Like an automaton Abbie moved through the next few hours. She was driven in a police car to the station, where someone asked her a million questions, then fingerprinted and photographed her.

Her mother appeared, tear streaks on her face.

"Oh, Abbie! Oh, darling, I'll help you. This is all

your stupid, stupid father's fault."

Dr. Thompson arrived, scowling. "What a foolish thing to do, Abbie! What could you have been thinking? You can thank me for talking Jamie and her roommate out of pressing charges."

But local officials had recently waged war on malicious mischief. Getting tough on these troublemaking kids was a priority, and Abbie found herself sitting in an office opposite a man who introduced himself as Judge Arnold Wilhite.

The judge reminded Abbie of her late grandfather Bill, with his thin hair combed over his bald spot, and crinkle lines around his eyes. Judge Wilhite leaned back in his office chair and rested his tooled cowboy boots on his desk. "I want to hear what you have to say, Abigail. Why'd you throw rocks through Miss__" He stopped and glanced at the paper on his desk. " through the window of Miss Jamie Lane's apartment?"

So that was her name Jamie Lane, Abbie thought. "I guess I don't have a good reason," she told the judge. She stared at her hands, which were clenched in her lap. "I just did it." The numbness she had felt began to slide away, and Abbie was frightened, She breathed in small, shallow gasps, trying to steady herself,

Judge Wilhite studied Abbie for a few minutes, Then he said, "The D.A.'s office is talking about prosecuting you for malicious mischief. Is that what you'd call what you did? Malicious mischief?"

Abbie raised her head and looked at him, "It wasn't mischief, It was hate, I hated her, and I was angry.

"Had you given this act some thought? Had you planned to come to Miss Lane's apartment and throw rocks?"

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