Still Missing

Even though I finished reading May’s book club selection a few weeks ago, typing up the review you’ll find below really made me think a lot about the book again. It was incredibly disturbing and I think that just remembering what I read and typing up my thoughts suppressed my appetite a bit because I wasn’t very hungry when my normal lunchtime rolled around.

I started with a small bowl of cottage cheese topped with a sliced red velvet apricot.

apricot with cottage cheese

At the grocery store over the weekend, I saw the red velvet apricots and thought they were plums! Not so!

Since this particular fruit was new to me, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was sweeter than a plum and so refreshing.

cottage cheese with apricot

While I snacked on my cottage cheese and apricot mixture, I prepared a lavash pizza with squash, mushrooms and shredded cheese.

lavash pizzalavash veggie pizza

This pizza made me want to make my cheeseburger pizza again sometime soon! (<—That is such an old blog post! It’s from my first month of blogging when Ryan was still just my “boyfriend.” Ah!)

Still Missing

Alright my fellow readers, it’s time to discuss the May’s Book Club selection: Still Missing.

still missing chevy stevens

You may also find other PBF book reviews and discussions on my Books page if you’re looking for some summer reading material.

Brief Summary

Still Missing follows the abduction of Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor living on Vancouver Island.

The story begins with Annie speaking to her psychiatrist, recounting what happened to her during the time of her abduction and the events that followed her eventual escape.

The book is descriptive, disturbing and a very intense read, specifically in the first half of the novel when the author describes what exactly happened to Annie during her time with her abductor in a remote mountain cabin.

My Review (Includes spoilers!)

I had no idea just how disturbing this book would be when I began reading it in the middle of May. When Ryan asked me how I was liking it when I was about a quarter of the way through it, I simply said, “It’s miserable. It’s just very disturbing.”

The vivid descriptions in the first half of the book made me uncomfortable since I couldn’t stop my mind from thinking about victims of rape, kidnapping and sexual abuse who may have gone through something similar or even much worse. It’s sick and horrifying. I know this is a work of fiction, but I had a hard time reminding myself that Still Missing was “just a book.”

As for Annie, I didn’t like the way she talked to her psychiatrist in the beginning of the book, but I quickly grew to really like her and found her to be a strong and powerful woman. When she gave birth to her daughter, my heart grew for her even more when I saw what a nurturing mother she was, especially under such horrific circumstances.

Thank goodness the second half of the book wasn’t nearly as disturbing as the first half, though it was most certainly just as captivating, if not more so!

I was very invested in Annie by the time she finally escaped and wanted to see how her relationships would develop or flounder and rooted for her to find true security and happiness.

The twists and unexpected relationships that developed in the second half of the book made me fly through the final pages of Still Missing and left me with a much better taste in my mouth following such an intense first half.

Blogger Link Up

Additional reviews of Still Missing may be found on the following blogs:

Discussion Questions

  1. How did you feel about the graphic nature of the rape scenes in the book? Do you think they were necessary to help convey the horrific events that occurred during Annie’s captivity?
  2. Were you rooting for a relationship to develop between Annie and her previous boyfriend or Annie and the detective? Which man (if any) did you want her to be with in the end?
  3. Were you surprised by the twist in the second half of the book that revealed more about why Annie was chosen by The Freak? 


      • Lindsay says

        Thanks Julie! 🙂 I love your blog and I just had to let you know the few things I’ve done in the past week because of your blog….
        1. Tried Orbit bubblemint gum (fabulous)
        2. Made the 2 ingredient spice cookies (so yummy! my husband and grandparents gobbled them up)
        3. Bought the Chicken and apple sausage (yum!)
        Thank you for all the MANY meal ideas too! Love your blog! 🙂


  1. says

    Still Missing was a FAST read for me. It was one of those books that’s comparable to ogling at a really bad traffic accident.

    I agree, the first half was so hard to read. It’s hard to even imagine what being in a situation like that is like when you can’t find a way out.

    I feel like the rape scenes were necessary to the gravity of the situation Annie was in, but that doesn’t change the fact that those were difficult to read through. So much of what she experienced was just terrifying, gross, and sad. I about cried when the baby died. It was her only happiness!

    I think the author could have developed her relationship with her boyfriend more before the abduction to make the relationship she developed with the detective seem more out-of-the-blue.

    One of my favorite lines from the book was when Annie was telling why she didn’t want a movie made about her experience. It was real to her, not entertainment. She compared it to the Titanic and said something like, “People actually died like that, frozen out in the water.” That made me think a lot about movies based on tragedies. They happened to REAL people.

    It was a good book. I don’t know that I’d recommend it to a friend, but it was an interesting change of pace for my usual reading. Oh and… I may have had a nightmare or two about being abducted after reading this :S


      • says

        PS. I had read a book once regarding a train wreck from an avalanche in WA state (Stevens Pass). This is a true story and one of the biggest avalanche life losses.

        Much of the details are put together from journals, letters, and very brief exit interviews from the ones that did survive or from documentation of the accident site. I will tell you, there was a part in which you realize that the woman felt her baby die below her and there was nothing she could do. She was actually pinned on top of the infant and it was probably suffocation. The writing of it was quick and fairly clinical and I still cried and CRIED. You would have thought it was front page news today.

        Sometimes when you really reflect that real people once made up those photos or deaths it can be really overwhelming.


  2. says

    I didn’t read any of the spoilers because I didn’t want to…well…spoil anything for myself? But the summary sounds a lot like the Jaycee Dugard book “A Stolen Life.”

    Definitely disturbing, but it really holds your interest.


  3. says

    So, is this a similar premise like “Room”? Having to live with an abductor, having a child by that person and the escape and life after, just not from a child’s perspective who grew up in this circumstance?

    I found Room very disturbing, although it was by no means explicit.


    • says

      kind of… still missing is definitely more graphic. while they have abduction and having a baby w/ the abductor in common, i feel like they were actually quite different, especially since room was written from jack’s perspective.


  4. Kaitlyn @ Pain Can Be Fun says

    I didn’t read Still Missing, but I did read your review just now, and it reminds me quite a bit of the book “Room”….have you ever read it? It’s also a very disturbing, but very good fictional story based on true events (kidnapping of a young adult). The whole story is told through the perspective of the young woman’s 5-year-old son, whom she gave birth too when she was in captivity. It was fascinating. If you haven’t read it, I’d definitely recommend it!! 🙂

    Happy Wednesday!


  5. Dana says

    that red velvet apricot looks soo good!! i love all the fresh fruit once summer starts rollin around! and so funny, i was looking at your old posts a little while ago and came across the cheeseburger pizza! definitely looks like a recipe i need to try!


  6. says

    LOVED IT! Once I started this book I was captivated and couldn’t put it down. I finished it in 2 days!

    I found the first half of the book, when Annie was with The Freak, to be disturbing but fascinating. I think the rape scenes were fully necessary to keep the novel authentic. When the baby died and when The Freak killed the duck I really hated him. Knowing that Annie would eventually escape, since the story was her retelling the past, made the book even more gripping because I wanted to know how she did it!

    I liked Gary and wanted Annie to get together with him. I wish there was an epilogue hinting at how Annie’s life developed a few years later!

    Despite how enthralled I was with the first half, I was even more obsessed with the second half. I cannot believe what her mother did! I can’t imagine any mother doing that to their child, but her mom was obviously troubled with serious financial and vanity issues. You’re supposed to be able to trust your mother, they’re there to protect you. Even Annie was a better mother to her daughter and she was a byproduct of rape. I’m happy I have a normal, loving mother!


  7. Lisa says

    Wow, I may be in the minority here, but I didn’t really enjoy the book. As terrible as it may sound, I did not find Annie likeable at all. I almost wish they would have started out with us “getting to know” Annie before all of this happened. It was hard for me to connect with her at all, however I did soften when she had the baby. As a mother myself, I was holding my breath each time “the Freak”(also loathe that nickname) came near the baby.
    I thought the “twist” was just….dumb, for lack of a better word. Truly, (spoiler!) could not imagine a mother doing that..and then the “competition” with her sister/cousin…
    I have read many “thriller/suspense” novels, so this content was not “shocking” to me as it might be to one who is not used to this genre. While it’s horrendous, don’t get me wrong, I have read much worse. (Not sure what that says about me!) 😉
    I really wanted to love this book..the premise sounded great, but I was not invested at all. 🙁


    • says

      i think i started to like her when i saw her at her most vulnerable and then i realized why she was “hardened” and seemed to be so brash to the psyciatrist. i also held my breath every time the freak came near the baby!! eek. do you have any book recommendations? i’d love to hear them!


    • says

      I agree – I really didn’t like the book much. It was definitely suspenseful, but it got so many great reviews and I can’t understand how so many people loved it! And you’re right, while the plot twist was a big surprise (and was clearly supposed to be), it was kind of hard to believe because it’s hard to imagine a mother doing that. I remember reading that part and being like, what?! Seriously?! This is a weird ending! I really wanted to love the book too, but I just didn’t.


    • Sue says

      I agree with these points – although I read the book quickly and was eager to keep going, I didn’t really like Annie, although obviously I sympathised with the horrific situation she was in. I think the twist with the mother was totally far fetched and unbelievable and did somewhat spoil it for me. That said, it did engage me for the two days it took me to read it!

      Have just bought all three of the ‘fifty shades’ trilogy mentioned above on the strength of the reviews and am saving them for my two week vacation in August as I have heard that once you start you can’t stop 🙂


      • Erinn says

        Fifty shades completely consumes you! Once you start, you can’t stop thinking about it! But be forewarned it is super graphic and just plain raunchy…I felt dirty reading it! I’m sure I was blushing the entire series!


  8. says

    I haven’t read Still Missing, but based on what you said, I don’t think I’ll be able to. I wasn’t even able to keep reading Lovely Bones after I got to the part that described a rape. I was just so uncomfortable and couldn’t handle it.


  9. Sara says

    This is the first month I’ve joined in on the book club and am really glad I did. I really enjoyed this book, and after finishing it recommended it to my mom who had read another book by the same author and really enjoyed that, so I’m excited to read more by her.

    I think the graphic rape scenes were very necessary, it went with Annie’s character. She was very hardened by what happened and it seemed realistic that she would explain it in such a blase manner. I have to say, I didn’t find the scenes to be all that graphic or at all disturbing, that’s probably because I’m a prosecutor though and sadly deal with stuff like that at work everyday.

    I wasn’t rooting for either man, they were both important to the story, but I was so interested in Annie and her mother that I felt a love interest just wasn’t necessary.

    I was shocked by the twist in the second half. I never would have guessed the story would go that way.

    Great pick on this book!


  10. says

    I started out disappointed that Annie was so harsh to her ex boyfriend. But after the book unfolded, I kind of got over Scott and was more into the detective. I think that after what Annie’s been through she and Scott couldn’t relate to each other anymore and that the detective understood her much better.

    I forgot to add this in my own review but the one thing I really hated in the book was the competition of her mother and her sister, it infuriated me. I know it happens but it just seemed so extreme and made me angry, especially due to what it resulted in.

    Thanks for including my review! 🙂


  11. says

    I loved the old post!!! It’s so cool to see how a blog starts and then evolves to something totally new! I’ll definitely say your picture taking skills have greatly improved!
    So funny how we learn little things as we go.


  12. says

    I agree-the first half was quite disturbing -yet intriguing at the same time. I was just so blown away that there are people who THINK like that and think it’s okay. Yikes!

    And I too didn’t love Annie until about half-way through. She was super strong through it all, and that’s impressive. It was still a sad, horrifying book to me, so I don’t think I’d ever read it again, nor would I suggest it to others, unless they like reading disturbing material.

    But I did like that she found a glimmer of happiness at the end….

    I think another reason it was hard to read was that I could NOT relate in ANY way at all. And that is a bit hard, ya know?! Great review, though!


    • says

      I agree – the book was a bit hard to relate to because most of us have luckily never experienced anything remotely like that. I think that’s why the author had to go into so much detail and why she included the therapy sessions. Otherwise the readers would have a really tough time grasping what Annie was going through.


  13. says

    whoaa I can tell that it’s a very crazy read! almost like I can feel your emotions here. I def. don’t think I’d want to read it, but I guess good writing makes you feel certain emotions!


  14. says

    I thought the book was suspenseful, but I didn’t love it and probably wouldn’t recommend it to a friend – it’s just too disturbing! Obviously I didn’t like the graphic rape scenes and abuse, but I do think they were probably necessary in order for the reader to get a sense of what Annie was going through.
    I thought the detective was a bit strange, but she saw him as her protector and that can be attractive. I wasn’t really rooting for either guy, but I preferred the boyfriend. I was definitely surprised by the plot twist at the end!

    Can’t wait to find out the next book!


  15. says

    I did enjoy this book but it was very disturbing to me and brought me to a place I didn’t necessarily go. It was really well written and held my attention but I was truly horrified by the first half of it.
    I was kind of rooting for the detective but I know that she probably needed to work more on herself and how to deal with the trauma she went through before she could enter a relationship.
    The ending was a real surprise.


  16. Jessica says

    This was such a gripping and disturbing book – I couldn’t put it down! When reading the first half there were multiple times when I found myself feeling sick just reading about what she had to do to stay alive and how strong of a person she must have been to be able to act in the way she had to. I was so angry and truly hated “The Freak” at multiple times and just found myself overwhelmed by her situation.

    I thought the second half was equally as good with the twist that just broke my heart for Annie. I had to imagine how she could possibly ever have a normal and happy life after enduring everything that she did. Overall, I thought it was a great book, although difficult to read in parts.


  17. says

    For some reason it creeps me out that this book was taken place in Vancouver Island, since I live there. So I don’t know if I could read it without getting freaked out. Even if it is fiction hah


  18. Nora says

    I blame myself for this selection. When you put the list up of possible books I was already reading Insurgent so I picked Still Missing (it was on sale for 3 dollars on the kindle!). Wow. I was disturbed. I honestly think reading it made me rather cranky. I flew threw the first part of the book because I wanted to get it over with. Then I flew through the second part because it was gripping, literally I read it in two days. I didn’t like the way she spoke to her therapist, per se, but I liked the writing of how you never heard the doctors voice.

    Honestly I never watch scary movies for this reason, it was disturbing and awful to think people have gone through it. And I couldn’t help think as a woman what I would do in her shoes at certain parts throughout the book. Well mainly I would’ve stopped trusting her mother long before she did, that woman was annoying!


  19. says

    I actually listened to this book – for awhile there I had a crazy commute and only had time for audiobooks! It was super creepy, and the graphic rape scenes probably even worse by being read out loud, but the painful stuff had to be there or we would’ve never understood Annie.

    I definitely wanted her to be with the detective, because I think she needed someone who didn’t know her before and expect her to be that person. The twists were unexpected for me, and I agree with you that I wanted to race through the second half of it.

    However, still think I preferred Room. Writing from the perspective of the boy born to the imprisoned mother was really thought-provoking.


  20. says

    LOVE that you are an avid reader–Must check this out. See, I think fruit and cottage cheese are so good together, and some people look at me cross eyed.

    I even let my golden Cooper lick the empty cottage cheese container, does Sadie like it?


  21. Emily says

    Soo… I really wanted to read this super creepy book, until I just realized it’s set on my OWN ISLAND.

    Yikes, maybe not. I might be a baby and wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.


  22. Alexa says

    I’m still in the process of reading Still Missing, and it’s definitely not what I first expected.

    I vote Defending Jacob for June’s book. It has so many crazy twists! (Or The Art of Racing in the Rain… how could you not want to read a book from a dog’s perspective?!)


  23. Jacki says

    Agreed. VERY disturbing book. Normally I hate the intimate descriptiveness of some books but I think in this one you really had to suffer through it with her to get the real idea of just how horrible it would have been in her situation. I couldn’t imagine anything that horrible.

    I was rooting for the detective. He seemed to be the only one really obsessed with finding her and seemed to give her the most comfort during her recovery.

    The end just blew me away. I can not comprehend anyone that would do that to their own child. Even when she found out it got messed up she saved herself from prosecution instead of worrying about her child. I’m sure I can’t say the words that come to mind when I think of that woman.

    All in all great book. I like joining in on the book club as it makes me read something other than the authors I’ve become comfortable with.


  24. says

    I have been having so much fun reading everyone reviews and thoughts! This is a great process. Anyway, my thoughts on these questions:

    1. How did you feel about the graphic nature of the rape scenes in the book? Do you think they were necessary to help convey the horrific events that occurred during Annie’s captivity?

    Ugh. This is hard. I would say I am pretty sensitive. What the book did “well” was not romanticizing the rape. I have seen movies in which rape is almost romanticized and I consider that a disservice to all females. The graphic nature of the book is extremely matter-of fact and emphasized the controlling game that is going on and Annie’s effort to understand that game in order to survive. And the rape isn’t even the totality of it – frankly the bathing, etc. upset me quite a bit as well.

    While I didn’t like reading pretty much any of those parts and in fact even skimmed some of them to a degree I believe they were a necessary part to the tone of this book.

    2. Were you rooting for a relationship to develop between Annie and her previous boyfriend or Annie and the detective? Which man (if any) did you want her to be with in the end?

    I actually didn’t care much about either relationship – which is kind of funny, I like a good love story as much as anyone. Romance just didn’t fit in the book. The redemption and recovery was in herself.

    The boyfriend wasn’t developed enough and the single sex scene with the detective demonstrated to me that she was obviously still working through things. Also, romance was just such a minor element to the thriller/mystery side of the book that it almost seemed out of place. The relationship with her dog mattered more. 🙂

    3. Were you surprised by the twist in the second half of the book that revealed more about why Annie was chosen by The Freak?

    Absolutely I was! I totally relieved that there was a nice crazy ending. After getting through the beginning I almost didn’t even care how far-fetched the ending might have been.


  25. Morgan says

    I have to admit that I really didn’t care for this book. I couldn’t really get myself into liking Annie. We had barely any background on her personality before she was taken, but were to assume that she was a sweet, likeable person…then we’re introduced to this crass character. I just couldn’t see it.

    My other issue: The Freak was so incredibly careful about EVERYTHING. He kept utensils locked up. Stocked the place with unbreakable plates. ETC ETC But then he goes and leaves an ax unattended, his back to her, and had no idea that she was creeping up on it?? (Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she did) It just didn’t make sense with the flow of his actions. It’s almost as if the author just needed a way to make her escape.

    Part way through the book I just flipped ahead a few chapters and it didn’t even feel like I was missing anything.

    I didn’t absolutely hate it, but it’s not something I would recommend.



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