Most readers who hear the name "Gregory Maguire" will probably most readily associate him with his book turned into the smash hit musical, "Wicked." Those who are a little more familiar with the rest of his work still probably associate him with the fantasy realm, albeit the edgy, twisted, fringe of fantasy. Since that's all I've read by him, that's what I associated his work with. So when I picked up "Missing Sisters" and say the tag line at the top "Alice never knew she had a twin," and the very realistic picture on the cover, I didn't know what to expect.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel for young adults from Maguire. It didn't have the same level of edginess that the rest of his work tends to hold. The story is about a 12 year old girl, Alice, who lives in an orphanage run by nuns, and one day accidentally discovers that she was born a twin. Her twin, Miami, and her were separated at some point after their birth and Miami has found a permanent home with a loving family that's bursting at the seams with children.
Life's been a little harsher for little Alice. Alice has a speech impediment, and a bit of a hearing loss, so people tend to assume so she's dumb as well. In actuality Alice is quite a bright little girl who cares deeply about the people she connects with and wrestles with some of the big questions in life about pain and why God allows it.
Considering some of the themes present in his other books I was a little nervous to see how Maguire was going to handle a building full of nuns, and the topic of God and suffering. While there were a few interesting moments, I think he handled quite well, but this is a rather intense book, and while it's intended for young adults, if I were a parent I'd want to read it first and make my own decision about whether or not it's a book my child would enjoy and be ready for.