Diana Renn's Reviews > Vanished

Vanished by Sheela Chari
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's review
Jul 13, 2011

it was amazing
Read from July 10 to 13, 2011

If you've ever lost a prized possession, you will instantly sympathize with eleven-year-old Neela, who loses a valuable musical instrument in the mystery novel VANISHED. The instrument -- an intricately carved wooden veena, a gift from her grandmother in India -- goes missing in a church outside of Boston, despite its large size and unwieldy carrying case. Strange clues begin to appear, and a fascinating history emerges. The veena, with its history of disappearing from all its owners, may have had a curse placed on it. From Boston to India, this expertly plotted mystery will keep readers guessing as they follow its twists and turns.

There's just so much to love about this mystery, including its precise details about veenas, about Indian culture, about dragons and wyverns. The novel certainly stands in good company with CHASING VERMEER and other great middle grade art mysteries. It is also exceptionally rich in characters, portraying people and situations that feel real and age-appropriate. Sometimes the biggest mysteries are the people in our day to day lives, and this is absolutely the case in VANISHED. Neela's family dynamic is shifting, as she ventures out into the world in search of the veena, pushing boundaries and causing her parents worry. She realizes that adults, including parents, are capable of deception. Her childhood friendships are also shifting and evolving. In addition, Neela is trying to gain confidence as a young musician and to overcome her stage fright. While I invested in Neela's search for the veena and wanted to see it found, I was equally invested in her personal journey.

A very satisfying read. Intricate and sophisticated, but never inaccessible. Highly recommend!
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