As a devotee of the TV show Disappeared, I had a hard time believing how the family dealt with the disappearance of Grandad in Liz Kessler‘s North of Nowhere (2012, 264 pages). Kessler writes the best-selling Emily Windsnap series and wrote another middle-grade time travel novel, A Year Without Autumn, which I liked a lot more than this book. (my review.)
Here is the summary of North of Nowhere from Goodreads:
The sleepy seaside village of Porthaven hides a mystery: Mia’s grandad has vanished, and nobody knows why. When Mia and her mom rush to Porthaven to help her grandmother, Mia imagines long dreary days with no one to talk to except for the old-time fisherman at her grandparents’ pub. But that’s before Mia finds a diary on an empty, docked fishing boat and starts exchanging notes with a local girl named Dee, a girl who seems much like her. Mia is excited about having a new friend, but why do their plans to meet each other never materialize? And why does Dee claim to be stuck at home due to violent storms when Mia sees only sunny skies? Will Mia be able to solve the mystery of where — and when — her grandfather and friend might be before time and tide forever wash away their futures?
This is a fun book, but it just seemed like more could have been made of it. I love books with a strong sense of place, and this one did have an interesting locale. Yet, there were not quite enough descriptive details about Porthaven to make me feel like I was there. I was lukewarm about how the time travel was accomplished in the book as well. I did enjoy the journal entries and would have like to have had more. There were about ten of them, all in the first third of the book.
This is one of those books that I’m almost reluctant to review on this blog because it is better if one reads it without knowing it is a time travel story. (Sorry about that.) Without giving too much away, I can say that as a parent I did not find the ending believable. See what Liz Kessler has to say about the book at her author website.
You can enjoy many more middle grade book reviews by following the MMGM links on Shannon Messenger’s blog.