Saturday, July 3, 2010

Missing Max by Karen Young

Missing Max by Karen Young
Howard Books - a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
ISBN # 978-1-4165-8749-1
Fiction - Romance (General)
$14.99 US / $19.99 CAN


It took precious seconds of 16-year-old Melanie's diverted attention at the Mardi Gras parade for someone to take baby Max from his stroller. Another hour for police to present Max's mom, Jane, with all the kidnapper left small shoe.

Six months later, the family is in a turmoil they cannot seem to escape. Max is out there somewhere - Jane is certain and she won't stop until she finds him - while Melanie takes a horrific step to make amends for those few seconds of attention lapse. Kyle doesn't know who to comfort first and, even if he could determine whether his wife or daughter needs him most, he can't put aside his own anguish over his missing infant son to chart a corrective course of action.

With their marriage on the rocks and a teenager taking matters into her own hands, can this family survive MISSING MAX?

My Take:

An amazingly written tale (I'll definitely be looking for more books by Karen), "Missing Max" tells the story of the fallout from Max's abduction. Jane (Max's mom and Melanie's step-mom) leaves Max in the care of Christine (her best friend) and Melanie during the Mardi Gras Parade to grab a bite to eat for everyone. In the few minutes she's gone, Christine rushes to help a stranger who's collapsed, leaving Max in Melanie's care. Max is sound asleep in his stroller, resting comfortably in the shade, back from the crush of the crowd. Melanie takes her eyes off Max for a few minutes to chat with some guys she knows on a parade float. When she turns back to check on him, he's gone. No Max. No stroller. Melanie calls Jane, and chaos ensues. Kyle (dad) is called from work, Jane rushes over. The police swarm to search, but all they find is the stroller and one tiny shoe.

The story focuses on the family, and how they deal with the the loss of Max. Jane focuses desperately on finding her son, spending hours volunteering for the local Missing Children department. Kyle pulls inward, working more and more hours, unable to deal with Max's loss. Melanie rebels, going from a sweet, ambitious teen to a surly, rebellious brat who blames Jane for everything. The family is on the verge of imploding, with each one blaming the other for Max's abduction. Months pass, and no Max. Every lead, every rumor, is followed, each one delivering another blow to their hope of Max being returned.

The story is amazingly narrated, Jane, Kyle and Melanie are easy to love and believe, and I was hoping along with them for Max's return. Each suspicion has you guessing who really took Max, and if he'd be returned alive and well. Jane, Kyle and Melanie's relationship is thoroughly plotted, from the start as a warm, loving blended family to the strain that is put on everyone.

5 stars.