Sometimes, when the Recommender is doing something else, like working on cartoons or painting a room, I get to listen to audiobooks! Recently, I listened to a few really good ones with great narrators that kept you wanting to listen, even if your work was all done.
Such was the case with Heather Gudenkauf's Before She Was Found. The narrator, Brittany Presley, really became the characters in this riveting story based, loosely, on the Slenderman myth which inspired 2 young girls to stab their friend 19 times to impress this fictional character.
Told from varying viewpoints and through journals and texts that begin by describing a nightmarish late night encounter by the railroad tracks, Before She was Found grabs the reader (or listener!) and immerses them in the lives of these characters, especially those of three twelve year old girls, Violet, the new girl in the town of Pitch, Iowa. Cora, an outcast among her peers, someone who is not good at sports or the other activities the girls in town excel at and with a strict father, and a pretty, popular sister, she spends time writing in her journal and trying to fit in without attracting the notice of her frenemy, Jordyn. Queen of the mean girls, Jordyn is always the first to point out Cora's lack of popularity and loser status. Raised by her grandparents, who live over the bar her grandfather owns, she is often out on her own, running wild, bullying others and getting into trouble.
Violet ends up in Pitch by accident when her mother's car breaks down, so she, her mother and brother end up staying in town, Cora hopes Violet will be her new best friend.They both like to draw and Violet is particularly gifted. Jordyn decided Violet should be her friend and sets out to steal her away, though it sometimes seems to bring them closer together. Especially when their favorite teacher gives them an assignment on "urban myths". Violet and Cora decide to work together, but the school has a motto of no child left behind, so to speak... like, if you don't have a place to sit for lunch, you'll be added to a table so the teacher adds Jordyn to their group.
What happens after that is the core of the story. working together, Jordyn belittles Violet and Cora's ideas and suggests a much more sinister subject. This subject begins to ensnare the girls as they research the back story and make plans that include a sleepover.
This is the first of Ms. Gudenkauf's books that I've read (or listened to!) and it was excellent. There is a reveal that is a bit surprising but I give nothing away! You will have to read (or listen to!) this story to find out what happens!