March 27, 2014
Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner
Wake Up Missing
by Kate Messner
Walker Books for Young Readers
Cat just wants to be the person she was before her head injury. Besides? Who falls out of a tree trying to watch birds and gives herself a concussion? Cat. That’s who.
Things were bad enough before she fell out of the tree. Nothing had been said, but she knew she was loosing her best friend who now liked soccer better than camping. She didn’t need to be told.
But now she has headaches all the time. Even when she tries to go to school she often has to come home sick. Not only is Cat falling behind in school, but she’s a total clutz. Yes, even worse. She just gets dizzy and tips over. She can’t focus when she tries to read and clay, which she used to turn into a variety of lifelike birds, is just a cold lump in her hand.
Then her mother hears about a brain injury clinic in Florida. They help gets just like Cat but they take only a few patients at a time and Cat would have to stay there without her parents. Still, it would be worth it if she could just be the girl she was before.
At the clinic, she meets sporty Sarah, a hockey player who fell at a game, football playing Quentin whose inability to do math could cost him a scholarship, and Ben, who was thrown from his horse. As they begin treatments, they are all getting better, no one faster than Ben. But then, when she’s trying to get a look into an osprey’s nest, Cat overhears a phone call. One of her fellow patients has a terrible brain tumor from the treatments. The doctors have decided not to tell anyone because it would jeapordize their program which suddenly sounds altogether sinister.
To find out what is going on, they have to gain access to the computer and make their way through the gator infested Everglades.
As they struggle to help each other, Cat realizes that, with each even she experiences, she is moving farther and farther from the girl she used to be, but that’s okay. As long as she’s the one making the decisions.
As always, Messner’s book is a combination of cutting edge science and a great story. This time the science involves both head injuries and gene therapy. As always, the bad guys are a bunch of misguided adults who start out doing things for all the right reasons but don’t realize who will disappear in the process.
As edgy as this sounds, it is solidly middle grade. There are some hints at romance but it is of the hand-holding variety and the danger is more often an ominous feeling than true danger. Not that the bad guys don’t do bad things, but the majority of it occurs off camera. The one bit of on-screen violence occurs when the bad guy is dealt with in an icky, Everglades kind of way.
An excellent choice for a young reader who wants action, adventure and science but isn’t ready for a young adult or adult novel.