Monday, February 16, 2009

Book Review: The Year We Disappeared

The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir by Cylin Busby and John Busby. (Grades 9+)

Thank goodness for the Cybils. No, really. Because if this book hadn't been on the MG/YA Non-Fiction shortlist, it probably would have slipped right by me*. And that would have been a shame.

In this book, daughter Cylin and father John share the story of what happened to their family in 1979 when John, a police officer, was shot in the head. John wasn't killed, but the bottom of his jaw was shot off and he had a long, painful recovery ahead of him. Worse was the fact that he was certain that the man behind his attempted murder was a local criminal who thought he had the police force in his pocket. John refused to give in to this man's threats and as a result he almost lost his life and his family was put in danger. Police were posted at the house to protect John's family and John had security in the hospital as he recovered to make sure no one came back to finish the job.

The really neat thing about this book is that you get two different perspectives. John writes his story - his painful recovery and crippling anger and frustration at an investigation that went much too slowly. Cylin writes her story - constant fear that her dad might die or that someone might be coming to kill her too, social ostracism because police officers followed her wherever she went.

Both stories are breathtakingly intense and they mesh together to paint a picture of a family interrupted. In one moment the world changed for the Busby family and nothing would ever be the same.

This book isn't for the faint of heart. Lots of medical details are included about John's injury and recovery, so if you're squeamish be aware.

This is compelling nonfiction and compulsively readable. I absolutely could not put it down. It's also been reviewed at Estella's Revenge, The Reading Zone, Becky's Book Reviews and Jen Robinson's Book Page. And we found out on Saturday that The Year We Disappeared WON the 2009 Cybil for Middle Grade/YA Nonfiction.

Nonfiction Monday is at Jean Little Library this week, so go see what the Kidlitosphere is reading!

*Even though, as I look for reviews, it's been talked about... I don't know where I've been...