Lisa Doucet Reviews Tom Ryan's I Hope You're Listening
I Hope You’re Listening
Albert Whitman & Co.
When little Layla Gerrard goes missing in the small town of Redfields, everyone is deeply shaken. For Dee Skinner, it is especially traumatic, given the fact that Layla’s disappearance is linked to the abduction of Sibby Carmichael ten years earlier.
Sibby had been Dee’s best friend. The two girls had been playing together in the woods when Sibby was taken. Dee was bound and gagged and left behind.
For ten years, Dee has wrestled with guilt and wondered what happened to Sibby. She has also become the creator and anonymous voice of Radio Silent, a podcast dedicated to sharing information about missing persons cases and rallying her online followers to help solve them.
This latest disappearance, with its connection to Sibby, compels Dee to start digging into the past herself and following up on new leads that might just lead her to the truth, help find Layla Gerrard and maybe even bring Sibby home at last.
A noteworthy follow-up to his highly acclaimed Keep This to Yourself, Tom Ryan’s latest YA thriller is another propulsive and riveting read. Featuring two potentially connected mysteries, the author skillfully juggles these multiple elements, along with Dee’s podcast and her determination to keep her identity as its host a secret.
Dee is a complex character who is not always likeable but is fully believable, especially in terms of her unshakeable feelings of guilt. While her relationships with her best friend, Burke, and her new love interest, Sarah, are not fully explored, the author adeptly weaves the story of Sibby’s abduction with the present-day mystery to create a nuanced and absorbing tale. Although readers will enjoy following Dee as she pieces together clues about what happened to Sibby, her epiphany about Layla’s disappearance is less clear and somewhat abrupt.
This multi-layered mystery will appeal to fans of this genre and create new fans as well.
Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax. She shares her passion for children’s and young-adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.