What would you do if one of your parents went missing while overseas? Unfortunately, as author Sue Whiting notes over 38,00 people are reported missing in Australia each year – and “roughly 1600 are considered long term missing”.
Mackenzie’s mother could be one of these statistics, after failing to make contact with family and friends while working overseas in the jungles of Panama. Distraught after a length of time, her father decides to take the search into his own hands, and in the dark of night, he and Mackenzie leave home.
What happens as a result of this impulsive move, rushed and without informing anyone, creates a tricky adventure for Mackenzie. However, she becomes strong and determined, while being rightly cautious in some circumstances. What she holds back from others seems to make her stronger in her search for clues, while unusual circumstances begin to provide clues of her mother’s whereabouts.
In some parts, what Mackenzie is able to achieve is questionable (how old is she really – #12/13 0r older?), but it is easy to be swept away in this puzzling tale – so that you suspend the sort of questions and let the story roll out. All the while you keep hoping for her to be successful in her search, but there is always a lingering doubt.
‘Missing’ is great tale of family love and desperation, trust and wariness – all based on the true concerns for those who go missing from families year after year around the globe. Clearly, Mackenzie loves her mum and shares many strong interests with her (which are important in the story), so it a quite an emotional ride, even right to the end.
Whiting explains here why she wrote such an emotional tale:
There is no denying that Missing was a tough story to write and a sad one to read, but I believe it is also an important one. Because it is as much a story about resilience and human endurance as it is about grief and loss. And it’s a story to remind us of the human faces and personal tragedies behind the statistics.
To what extremes would you go to find a missing loved one? Would you be able to match Mackenzie’s efforts?
Are you aware of how important it is to stay in touch? How do we guard our personal safety?
[# I think the story would have worked better if she was older. Some of the initial setting talks about her just finishing primary school.]