Summary: This story follows a teenager named Emily Lonergan as she works through what has been a terrible year since losing her best friend, Lizzie Porter. Walking home from school, Emily saw Chloe, Lizzie’s little sister, and ran to greet her. Chloe then convinced Emily to come see her parents and get a ride home from them. After offered a drink they had brought, Emily passed out and woke up hours later still in the van with her hands tied behind her back. She’d been kidnapped. Throughout “Pretend She’s Here,” Emily is kept in a locked cellar by the Porter family and forced to pretend to be their lost daughter/sister, Lizzie. In comes the boy next door, Casey, who is legally blind and has keen hearing. Casey figures out the truth and eventually Emily tells him everything. Chloe realizes her actions and helps Emily to escape to Casey’s, where the police later find her and realize she is the “missing girl” from Connecticut. Terrified for her family’s lives, especially her mother’s, Emily, Casey, and Chloe go back to the Porter’s house to find Mrs. Porter. Emily finds her in the cellar bedroom where they kept her. Mrs. Porter is deranged and has realized the only way to keep Lizzie with her always is by dying together. She attempts to do just this with the knife she threatened Emily’s family with, nicking Emily’s long and a small part of her heart. Emily was truly fighting for her life through the entire novel.
Review: Talk about some twists and turns, people! This story is definitely NOT what I expected when I picked it up to read. I thought it would be a sad story about loss and reflection, but it was not. I did not expect any of the events that happened to occur, which is what makes a novel so great. I read this book in less than a day – when a writer can speak to you in this way that you finish a 300+ novel in mere hours, they are one amazing writer and author. I can’t wait to read more novels by Luanne Rice.