Wendy White was a late bloomer. All her classmates and friends couldn't wait to graduate and get out of rural, run-down Haeden, N.Y. But Wendy was a homebody, happy to stay in Haeden, help her dad in his business, work as a bar maid at night, and get her own apartment. So when Wendy goes missing, everyone assumes that she must have been abducted by a stranger. That is, everyone but Alice Piper and Stacey Flynn.
Alice Piper was an extremely bright and precocious high school student. Raised by her idealistic, free-spirited parents in a sort of hippy commune environment, Alice has a completely different perspective of Haeden, as a town that is suffocating and sick.
Stacey Flynn is young reporter who has come to Haeden from Cleveland to cover the community beat. She quickly zeros in on the small-town mentality and habit of burying their heads in the sand when things get too dicey - such as Wendy White's disappearance. Piper and Flynn arrive at the same conclusion, but from different directions and different solutions.
In her debut novel, Cara Hoffman does an excellent job of gradually building up the suspense, doling out pieces of information so that the readers can come to their own conclusions. Until the shocking ending that blows you away! Hoffman's book is based on a true case that she covered as an investigative reporter covering New York State's rural and Rust Belt communities, where she reported on environmental politics and crime. She makes a harsh indictment against violence and adolescents in small-town America.