F for Freaks Like Us, by Susan Vaught (book review) – voices in his head, missing person mystery

book cover of Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught published by BloomsburyThe police say…
The FBI special agent says…
The voices in his head say…
What if Jason did something to make Sunshine disappear?

Jason answers to the nickname Freak, counts himself lucky enough to be with his best friends Sunshine and Drip in the special class full of “alphabets” like ADHD, and knows that he can’t trust his own memories because of his schizophrenia – yet is determined to find out what happened to selectively mute Sunshine when she just vanished.

Discover Jason’s unusual story of friendship, love, and loss at your local library or independent bookstore and consider how you treat the “alphabet” people in your life.

Book info:  Freaks Like Us / Susan Vaught. Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers, 2012. [author site]  [book trailer] – ebook may still be available

My recommendation: When their best friend goes missing, Jason and Derrick know they have to find Sunshine, because she had let them know that someone was hurting her. These self-contained class teens are best friends forever, and if they have to go off their meds to get the answers, they will.

Jason knows he’s schizophrenic, hears voices even when he takes his medication, calls himself Freak like everyone else at the high school, and worries that Sunshine’s delinquent brother will drag her along into his troublemaking. Derrick’s big brothers nicknamed him Drip when he was little, and the name stuck when he didn’t outgrow his allergies and ADHD. And sweet Sunshine is selectively mute: she can talk, but she just doesn’t want to.

The three friends got off the short bus together in their neighborhood at 4:30, and by 5 o’clock Sunshine had vanished. Their routines never vary; they must keep things the same to cope in the big world; there’s no way that Sunshine left of her own choice!

Jason’s mom, the Army colonel, pulls some strings to get the FBI on the case before too much time has passed. The voices in Jason’s head tell him that he should remember something that would help the searchers find Sunshine…so he decides to stop taking his medication so the voices will tell him the answer.

The FBI agents say the best chance of finding Sunshine is in the first 24 hours, so Jason counts the hours remaining, tries to hear which voice in his head is reminding him of clues he heard earlier, and agonizes that he might have something to do with her disappearance.

Should Jason and Drip try to find Sunshine on their own?
Why won’t her stepdad cooperate more with the agents?
What about those boys who always tease her at school?
Why can’t Freak remember that important clue?

The clock is ticking, the voices are insistent, and Jason’s not sure whether he can trust Agent Mercer of the FBI or not – Freak’s world turns upside down when Sunshine vanishes, and readers are along for his dangerous and confusing journey toward the truth.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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