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The Year Without Michael

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  358 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to good people. But somewhere between home and the softball field, 16-year-old Jody Chapman’s younger brother disappeared, and now the family is falling apart. Her parents hardly speak to each other, her younger sister is angry and bitter, and Jody’s friends, always so important to her, are slowly slipping away. It seems that all anyone ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published November 11th 2003 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published August 1st 1987)
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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank1984 by George OrwellThe Road by Cormac McCarthyBridge to Terabithia by Katherine PatersonNight by Elie Wiesel
Most Depressing Book of all time
402nd out of 942 books — 2,921 voters
Green Witch by Alice HoffmanThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer MathieuGuilt of the Innocent by Lindsay Anne KendalThe Year Without Michael by Susan Beth PfefferNight Terrors by Lindsay Anne Kendal
YA Books Under 200 Pages
4th out of 53 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,012)
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Mary JL
Mar 31, 2012 Mary JL rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone over age 12
Recommended to Mary JL by: I am a fan of this author
This is an incredibly well-written book.

When 13 year old Michael does not come home one night, his family literally falls apart. Pfeffer shows the way stress and anger and anxiety affect this family during this crisis.

The police search. The family makes "Missing" posters and posts them all over town. And each day, they expect Michael to come back or be found. And one day passes and another and still there is no trace of Michael.

At first, the police assume Michael just ran away. But as time pass
Aug 25, 2009 Melissa rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 18, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it
I loved this book and hated this book. Pfeffer does a good job at looking at the dysfunction of a family that loses a young family member very unexpectedly. She addresses the highs and lows of a family that isn't sure that they will get Michael back and the extremes the family goes to to feel okay again. I was a little disappointed with the ending, but in reflection, I much prefer it to any other outcome.
Mar 05, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok
Grade: D

On his way to play softball with a friend, 14 year old Michael tells his sister, Jody, goodbye and that he'll be home by dinner. Then he vanishes into thin air, throwing the already-dysfunctional family into chaos.

I first read THE YEAR WITHOUT MICHAEL as a teen in the 1970s and liked it a lot, so I thought I'd give it a reread.

First the Good: Jody was a likable main character, she had both positive and negative qualities.

The okay: The plot, except for the ending, was compelling.

The bad:
Apr 05, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
This is a really good book, but heart wrenching. I hated the ending or would have given it a 5 instead of a 4. I know this ending is the truth of the way it usually in real life turns out, but gave me such depression when the book was over.
This book totally disturbed me when I was a kid...
Mar 31, 2008 CLM rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, grief
Very disturbing but convincingly done.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I read this after hearing Susan Beth Pfeffer speak at a New York Library Association School Library Media Specialist conference. A teenage girl and her family try to cope with the disappearance of her little brother. Excellent realistic fiction!
This book MIGHT have gotten 4 stars if the ending had been better, they just end the book and you don't know what happens to Michael! It was really deep, talked a lot about this family's love for each other.
Dec 26, 2010 Kileen rated it liked it
Too depressing for me. It's very well written and the characters are completely real. As a mother it's just too scary to read about a child disappearing and never being found.
Mar 14, 2012 Valerie rated it really liked it
Once again, the author does a great job of helping us to see and ponder how we might react in a similar situation. Sad, but hopeful story.
Bookaholic Girl : )
Apr 10, 2011 Bookaholic Girl : ) rated it it was ok
One of the saddest books I've ever read.
Jun 04, 2007 Anne rated it really liked it
Depressing but good. Read it as a kid.
Brooke Craig
Aug 31, 2009 Brooke Craig rated it did not like it
Brooke Craig
Ms. Wheeler
Honors English III
August 31, 2009
The Year Without Michael Book Review
The Year Without Michael
The Year Without Michael by Susan Beth Pfeffer is a novel about a family’s struggle to come together after their son, brother, and loved one, thirteen year old Michael, went missing. Protagonist, Jody, tries hard to keep her family together through this tragedy. Pfeffer wrote this novel for those ages twelve and up. Although this book won Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year,
I read this book when I was quite a bit younger (I estimate maybe 16 years ago?) and I don't remember it in vivid detail, but I do know that it has haunted me since I first picked it up.

Jody's younger brother disappears, and the book dissolves into that peculiar grief that only families of missing children / adults can know or experience. Her family is fractured and Jody is determined to find her brother.

In the end, (view spoiler)
Mar 19, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing

This book is one of my FAVORITE !
i love it so much! i hug it & kiss it goodnight. :)
This is a book i would remeber for the rest of my entire life. Okay so let me start of by saying that this book is about this family . there's two girls & one little boy hes only 11 years old i believe. So here's the deal the little boy just disapeers, like out of nowhere. NOWHERE. & so his parents are planning on sliping up & he only has his 2 sister's & his mom but then his dad appears. Wh
Michelle L.
Aug 11, 2014 Michelle L. rated it it was ok
Extremely sad and disturbing. Not recommended for young readers. Hardly any resolution even at the end. Depressing. A young girl tries to solve all of the problems of her family and realizes she can't. So sad.
M Baldrica
YA -tells how a family falls apart when their son goes missing. Book was good, however, in the end, the son is never found. I was looking for an 'ending'.
Darlene Dion
Nov 09, 2014 Darlene Dion rated it did not like it
I confused "YA" (young adult) with Youth. The pace was exceptionally SLOW. Too much dis function was crammed into one family.
Apr 19, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
An ending that left me wanting more. The story kept me interested though. I like the diary entry model of writing by Susan Pffefer.
Jan 12, 2016 Natasha rated it really liked it
Its a liitle sad but pretty good. So don't leave your home alone
Oct 25, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2015 Talia rated it really liked it
Holy shit!!
This book was incredible , like , despite the incredible sadness , this book blew my mind , Outstanding
Jan 22, 2014 Meaghan rated it liked it
very dated .parts were great but i didnt care for the ending.
Tristen Sell
Oct 26, 2012 Tristen Sell rated it liked it
"The year without Michael" was an OK book for me. The author did a very good job of depicting every emotion from each member of the family, so that I could almost feel exactly what they were going through. I also liked seeing how Jody's attitude without Michael affected every area of her life, her school work, her relationship with her family and friends, and mostly her overall outlook on life.
Jun 30, 2008 Kelly rated it liked it
A good read. It definitely shows how families grieve, how families cannot move on when a loved one is missing. The old cliche that everyone needs closure (even if it means finding out that a loved one was murdered) is true. This is an accessible read for teens for them to grapple with adult issues.
Stephanie A.
Jul 19, 2012 Stephanie A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who knew she was famous long before 2006? Stumbled across this by chance and was amazed to find an exceedingly well written, very serious and mature piece of work (just dated enough to make an interesting window it the past). The ending might be controversial, but I thought it fit.
Jan 26, 2013 Amanda rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of Susan Beth Pfeffer and this book did not dissapoint. She really got into the heads of the characters and helped you understand what they were going through. Very engaging and thought provoking.
Mar 14, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
Sad book. It was actually read aloud to us by the teacher when I was a kid. It thought it was convincingly done at the time, but not sure if I'd feel the same reading it as an adult.
Nov 09, 2009 Dana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
so far this is really good! the only reason i ever wanted to read this was because my brother is michael, not this michael of course, but that is why it interested me so much.
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Susan Beth Pfeffer was born in New York City in 1948. She grew up in the city and its nearby suburbs and spent summers in the Catskill Mountains. When she was six her father wrote and published a book on constitutional law, and Pfeffer decided that she, too, wanted to be a writer. That year she wrote her first story, about the love between an Oreo cookie and a pair of scissors. However, it wasn't ...more
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