Thursday, December 28, 2023

I Will Find You

Benedis- Grab, Daphne. I Will Find You
December 5, 2023 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

When Gracie's middle school class goes on a camping trip to Frost Peak Campground, not far from their town in the Catskills, everyone is looking forward to getting outside, but things start to go wrong right away. Gracie gets stuck in a cabin with Olivia and Jessica instead of her best friend, Jade. To make things evern worse, because one of the cabins is under construction, Leo and Nicky have to stay in the cabin as well. It has two rooms, and Ms. Becker is in the cabin with them, but it's just... awkward. Leo is just loud and annoying, but Nicky has repeatedly bullied just about everyone in the class. Everyone gives him a wide berth in the cabin, but the next day when they wake up, he's gone. Ms. Becker has already checked the entire campground, and the police have been brought in. They seem to think that it might be a familial kidnapping, but all of the children are sent home. Gracie feels responsible for Nicky's disappearance, Leo has reasons to find him, and Olivia thinks that they should all help look for him. Other classmates have reasons to want Nicky gone; Ryan is planning an expose of everything that Nicky has done, Jessica vowed to get back at him after he stuck gum in her hair, and Chloe, Ms. Becker's daughter, is afraid that her mother will lose her job if Nicky is not found. Starting with the clue that Nicky brought rubber boots instead of hiking boots on the trip, the children start an investigation. When they find Nicky in the cabin that is under construction, they learn things about his life that cause them to want to help him. He's being framed. Is this appropriate pay back, or should Nicky be cut some slack because of things that happened in his life? Will the real culprit be found so that Nicky doesn't get in any more trouble?
Strengths: There is a lot of positive modeling of behavior here; Olivia snaps at Gracie when they are picking bunks, but apologizes, Leo is sort of uncouth but the other kids gently try to correct him, and Nicky's past as a horrific bully is uncovered. His home life has been a mess; children's services got involved, and his mother made changes to their life style. Nicky apologizes to many of the people that he hurt, and most graciously accept. Ms. Benedis-Grab is a school librarian, so there is a warm description of the school librarian, and the details about school trips, and even about the possible trouble that Ms. Becker might be in, are quite good. The children are able to travel around their small town on bicycles, talk to residents, gather clues, and help Nicky out. There is also some good autism spectrum representation, and Olivia, whose brother is on the spectrum, makes sure to let her classmates know how to respectfully treat people who are neurodivergent. 
Weaknesses: I thought this was going to be more of a murder mystery; the cover is great, the chapter titles are in a blood like font, and the police are involved right away. Instead, it's more of a social commentary about bullying, with some detective work figuring out who is framing Nicky. 
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who like Benedis-Grab's other thrillers like I Know Your Secret or I Know You're Lying, or clue oriented mysteries like Brockenbrough's To Catch a Thief or Souders' The Radcliffe Riddle

Ms. Yingling

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