March 2009

I Read Therefore I Am

LESS DEAD by Laura Elverbak
Mar. 1st, 2009
04:28 pm

Fifteen year old Jessica Keeling, street name Jade, wakes looking into the eyes of a dead man. She has no memory of how she got here or who he is. Terrified she leaves, heading back out into the streets. She plans to go to a center that helps teenagers who are living on the street. But before she can get there, she meets up with a man she recognizes who offers her a ride.

She takes the ride, and disappears.

Niki Alexander works at Open Palms. A former cop, she has devoted her life to helping the kids on the streets ever since she had to shoot one of them in the line of duty. When her former partner approaches her about finding Jessica, she remembers the girl from the center. She begins looking for the girl who was the last one seen with a City Councilman who has turned up dead.

The mystery involves both Jessica and her father, a man who has also disappeared. As Niki looks deeper into the situation she keeps finding more troubling information, and soon becomes convinced that someone is out to silence the girl known as Jade before she can be found.

A new volunteer at the center seems to want to help, but Niki is used to handling things on her own, and she isn't about to change any time soon.

The search for Jade and who killed the Councilman leads to places that Niki and her former partner never expected it to go. They find that somehow all of it connects to the male gay bar scene.

Will Niki find Jade? Or will Niki become the next one to disappear?

The book doesn't pull any punches about what happens to teenagers who are homeless. The story reveals why it is so very difficult to reach these kids and make a difference in their lives. Niki's devotion may be built out of guilt, but it is sincere, and the reader roots for her to succeed in finding the girl and making sense of everything that has happened.