I wasn’t sure what to expect going into You Must Not Miss. I knew I loved the title. I knew it was about a disturbed teenager retreating into fantasy, struggling with bullying, and being tempted by revenge. But I had no idea what the tone would be or what would happen next. Which is another high compliment, because I often find teenage protagonists in fiction far too predictable.
What I got was a very Shirley Jackson-esque tone. I described this to my fiance as “if Shirley Jackson wrote a book inspired by Heavenly Creatures“, and I stand by that description, though no one should read that as a hint about the plot, because it’s not. It’s just the feeling I got from Magpie, the protagonist, who is as sympathetic as she is, sometimes, very creepy. The book felt internal and detailed in the way a Jackson novel or story does: you really root for the main character because you feel like you know them so well so quickly, and because really, aren’t they just misunderstood? No one can make you understand the misunderstood as well as Jackson did, but Leno comes close here.
Despite the book being thoughtfully paced, I still found myself not wanting to put it down. I devoured the last 25% sitting silently on the couch, refusing to put the book down even when brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed. You KNOW that’s the sign of a great book! I was sad to say goodbye to Magpie and her world when I finished.