Cosimano, Elle. Nearly Gone. Kathy Dawson Books (Penguin), 2014.
Sixteen-year-old Nearly Boswell is smart, especially in chemistry, where she is vying for a huge scholarship against her best friend, Ahn, and another student. She is also getting community service hours by tutoring fellow students. She and her mom, a stripper at a local club, had to move into a dilapidated trailer park five years earlier when her father left them. She feels that the scholarship could be her ticket out of Sunny View Mobile Home Park and her present life. But Nearly has a special, but unwanted, talent. When someone touches her she can taste the emotions that person is feeling.
Obsessed with the personal ads in the newspaper, Nearly hopes to read a message from her absent father. Instead, she finds mysterious math and science messages that foreshadow attacks on the students she is tutoring. Nearly realizes that the killer is taunting her and challenging her to solve the crimes. She thinks he is also trying to frame her for the attacks, which have progressively turned into murders.
A new student, Reece Whelan, is assigned to be tutored by Nearly, but she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. But as more of her students die, she turns to him for help instead of her best friend, Jeremy, who wants to be more than friends.
It’s literally a race against time to catch the killer. Will Nearly and Reece be able to solve it in time to save her and prevent more deaths?
Nearly Gone is extremely character-driven, and is a very well-written mystery. Nearly is smart, tough, and streetwise—a great protagonist! Reece comes across as a typical bad boy, but actually has a soft, protective side to him that girls will love. The cryptic clues so cleverly worked into the novel had me stumped during the whole story. Elle Cosimano’s debut novel will keep readers guessing and turning pages until the very end. It is scheduled to be available on March 25, 2014. I highly recommend it for high school and public libraries. I give it five out of five fleur de lis!