Strange Creatures by Phoebe North
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From acclaimed author Phoebe North comes a riveting, unexpected, and beautiful contemporary novel about a girl whose brother mysteriously disappears, the family and friends he leaves behind, and the stories—real and imagined—that they tell themselves to fill the empty space.
From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world, called Gumlea, where no one else could find them.
And it was enough, for a while. But then came middle school, when Jamie grew dark and distant. He found new friends, a girlfriend, and a life away from Annie and Gumlea. Soon it was as if she hardly knew the brother who was her other half.
And then, one day, he disappears.
Annie, her family, and the entire community are devastated. And as the days turn into months turn into years, everyone begins to accept that Jamie is gone for good. Everyone, that is, except Annie, who believes that Jamie, somehow, has entered Gumlea, and who believes that she’s the only one who can bring him back.
But as Annie searches for answers and finds a new relationship with a girl she did not expect, she makes startling discoveries about her brother’s disappearance—and has to decide how much of herself she’s willing to give up in order to keep hope alive.
Year first published: 2021