Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.
— Goodreads Description
I have to admit that it took me two tries to read this book. I just couldn’t get into it the first time around and didn’t get far enough to even be curious about the rest. This time though, I was very much intrigued.
I’m not the biggest fan of Victoria, to be quite honest. She’s the kind of pretentious and obnoxious girl that I despised in school. However, she’s also quite brave and thankfully inquisitive, or else, well, the mystery wouldn’t be solved, certainly. It’s frightening to read about a town where adults forget they ever had children once they go missing and it’s even more frightening to realise that really the adults didn’t much care for them in the first place. It certainly sounded as if they were all more preoccupied by themselves (perhaps due to Mrs Cavendish’s interference, but still), except for when their respective children weren’t doing things just so. I felt terribly sorry for Lawrence, whose parents presumably didn’t understand what music means to him, and Victoria too, even though I disliked her a great deal. Her parents seemed the most disinterested in her, at least from her point of view, and she didn’t even know that that was odd (or perhaps that’s what passes for normal in this town).
Victoria isn’t perfect, but she grew on me towards the end. And I think that’s why I like it, actually. She still has all those annoying mannerisms and thoughts that annoyed me from the start, but she grows as a person. She’s not perfect, even though she dearly wishes to be, but she’s amazingly brave and smart and, as it turns out, a very good friend to Lawrence and many others she befriends in the Home.
The only thing that bothered me was that the solution to the problem seemed rushed. It wasn’t as far as pages go, but in in-universe time, it seemed that way. Days and weeks pass at first, and then it all just ends in a day. Which, I suppose, is only natural as you can’t plan ahead all that much, but well. It bothered me a bit.