Writing inconsisient in ‘Disappeared’
Bethany Pendragon is charged by her mother to find out why her older sister, Abigail, isn’t answering the phone. Right away we find that Bethany is not overly fond of her older sister. Abigail is a free spirit with some kooky ideas about how the world works and seems to disappear on a semi-regular basis.
When I read the book, I got the distinct impression that Bethany was jealous of her sister’s freewheeling ways and thoroughly annoyed about all the extra time she has to spend trying to find her. I actually liked Abigail and found Bethany’s attitude bitter and annoying. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the author was going for.
Bethany is a busy woman with a husband and one son. She works as a coordinator for adult education, a nurse at a one-day surgery center, volunteers for ARF (an animal rescue foundation) and fosters animals. She is also very fond of cooking. All of these things take precedence over the fact that her sister is, indeed, missing. The book contains excruciatingly long passages detailing the preparation of meals, and then recipes for these meals are added, as well. There is also a great deal of detail regarding her co-worker’s seating positions in the office and how that affected who saw whom enter, and when – facts having absolutely nothing to do with the story.
More than once I thought I was reading infomercials for various causes (animal rescue, drug addiction, organ donation, etc.). Bennett tried to ease these passages in as dialogue or introspections, but they simply did not ring true. While her causes are worthwhile, the “ads” urging the reader to take action have no place in the book, at least not as they were written.
I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected second twist near the end. And I couldn’t help thinking that there must be another writer altogether for the action sequences. These sequences were swift moving, well written and all too infrequent. The rest seemed nothing more than filler and, since most of the action and plot line didn’t show up until the latter part of the book, you can understand why I had difficulty getting that far in the first place. Had Bennett stuck to the story of her sister’s disappearance, well, it would have been a lot shorter but far more interesting.
This was a difficult book for me to get through. I actually started it four times before being able to carry through to the end. The fact that there were numerous proofing errors didn’t make it any easier. All in all, this seemed more of a diatribe on how wonderful and caring and responsible Bethany is rather than the saga of a sibling gone missing. Perhaps a different title, “All About Bethany,” would have given a better idea of what the plot line truly was, and I would not have been so disappointed.
Penn Valley resident Holly Bennett uses her 30-plus years in nursing and education to enrich the characters in her books. She also wrote “Deliberate Harm.”
Carol Dexter is an avid reader, amateur wildlife photographer and has recently “seen the elephant.” She plans on spending a great deal of time this summer in search of gold.
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