Review: 17 and Gone

Last week, I reviewed 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma (Dutton, 2013).

That review was for people who, well, don’t want to know too much about a book going in. So, short version of 17 & Gone for those readers is that Lauren is seeing ghosts, including a girl who may still be alive, and is that girl alive and why is Lauren seeing these ghosts?

This review is for people who don’t mind learning the why Lauren is seeing ghosts; and for the people who have readers who may not want to read the ghost-mystery book but, well, would want to read 17 & Gone based on that why.



Lauren has schizophrenia. 17 & Gone is about Lauren beginning to to have the symptoms, but, of course, she doesn’t know. The same way that anyone wouldn’t know. So, what she sees, and what she hears, and what she begins to get obsessive about, she interprets as ghosts. She believes that these voices are the girls; she believes the things they tell her are their true stories. The other things that she sees or experiences she believes are all related to that haunting.

I love how Suma does this; how we only known Lauren as her symptoms begin so we follow that gradual slope that she does, so it’s never a lot she has to process but a slow buildup of many things. By the time she begins to think her mother may not be her mother, by the time of blood and knives and fires, it all seems to make sense — just as it makes sense to Lauren.

I love how there a few hints that this is not Ghost Whisperer for teens; aside from the obvious, the tone and increased feeling of things not being settled. The timing seems a bit off; not that it’s wrong, but there is something a bit disjointed and jumpy in what and how and when Lauren is telling us things.

Lauren’s mother is a single parent, and when I read that her father had left and may be homeless I wondered. Later, it turns out that he, also, may have schizophrenia. Is this why Lauren’s mother is working towards a degree in psychology?

See why I was torn about how to describe and discuss this? Because much as some readers are going to want to discover this on their own, there will be others who are looking for books about teens and mental illness and because of that, will want to read 17 & Gone.

2 thoughts on “Review: 17 and Gone

  1. Oh, thank you for this spoiler review. Now the book sounds more interesting to me and I’m relieved of my prior fears.

    “The timing seems a bit off; not that it’s wrong, but there is something a bit disjointed and jumpy in what and how and when Lauren is telling us things.” Not having read the book, do you think that given Lauren’s condition, her narration would be a little disjointed or jumpy or that it was not so much a deliberate choice for the character’s voice and more a quirk in the writing?


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