Untraceable by S.R. Johannes is a novel about Grace, a 16-year-old girl who is saddened and confused by the disappearance and presumed death of her father. But unlike many other teenagers, Grace is determine to explore the Smokey Mountains where her father disappeared and search for clues as to where he might be. It’s been three months since they last saw her father and the local authorities are closing the case and ruling her father’s disappearance as death by drowning.
One day while Grace is out in the woods tracking her father she meets Mo, a teenage boy who is living in the woods and studying to be a geologist. Not only does Mo know what he’s doing in the woods, he’s funny and good looking as well. The two begin meeting up to fish and talk.
Then Grace overhears two men talking about illegal poaching of bears. She can only imagine that they could be involved with the disappearance of her father since he was hot on the tail of some local poachers when he went missing. Grace follows the men into the woods only to be caught by then. In a daring rescue Mo shoots one of the men and gets her to safety.
That’s when everything Grace thought she knew about her town, the people in her town, and even Mo gets blown wide open. Grace has stumbled upon something much bigger then finding her father and the people involved will do anything to keep her quiet. The last pages of the novel are a series of lies, betrayals, hope, and tragedy as Grace struggles to process what she has learned and to keep herself alive in time to tell the authorities what she has learned.
While I thought the book started out slow, it quickly gripped my attention once it got moving. Grace is a strong young woman who not only knows how to take care of herself but is smart as well. Even when no one else believes her father is still alive, she trucks on determined to find out the truth. The side story of romance between her and Mo is sweet. The ending of the book may be a little graphic for younger readers and is a bit over the top, but overall it fits with the theme of the book. This young adult novel is action packed and full of heart racing moments, heart breaking moments, and many different kinds of love.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
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