Author: Shari Green
Publisher: Pajama Press
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
Having just spent the summer breathing in the smoke blanketing the entire province of BC, with fires burning close enough to my home that I packed up photos and essentials in preparation for evacuation, this story really resonated. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down and I’m pretty sure I didn’t take a full, deep breath until I finished. Luckily as a novel in verse, it’s a pretty quick read.
When ten-year-old Cara and her family are evacuated from their home in the fictional Western Canadian town of Pine Grove, they have ten minutes to pack and leave. But when they pile into the car with their just-in-case backpacks and other possessions, Cara’s dog, Mike, has disappeared. As the family drives along the packed highway away from their home – rescuing a stray cat and helping a stranded young father who ran out of gas – I felt like I was on the jorney with them, sharing Cara’s devastation about having left Mike behind.
Along with her parents and older sister, Cara is billeted by a lovely volunteer family. They only stay with them for two and a half weeks but their life transforms during that time. Cara turns eleven, contemplates the potential loss of her home, worries about changing schools for the start of grade six, finds out her best friend is moving to Vancouver, and struggles through a changing relationship with her sister… all while helping out at the evaluation centre and trying to locate Mike.
Missing Mike is filled with the kindness of strangers which gives the book hope. The conclusion is a satisfying mix of reality and happy ending. Interestingly, neither of my 12-year-old boys would even crack the cover. Perhaps because the possibility of fire evacuation was too close to home. One of my sons was clear that he he did not want to read a book about a missing dog. I loved this book because it placed my fears into a story of survival and resilience where the main character discovers what home really means. But for some, the journey to get there may be too much.