Picture Unavailable

Picture Unavailable
Age Range
Release Date
October 25, 2022
Buy This Book
While looking through their sixth-grade yearbooks, Charlie Greene and his two best friends notice that the portrait of their missing classmate has been left blank except for two words: Picture Unavailable.

Though Johnny Howardwick vanished mysteriously, Charlie and company know he was at Westfield Middle School for picture day. Things get stranger when they realize Johnny's image has been purged from the entire yearbook.

The boys set out to uncover the mystery to jump-start their Serial-style podcast. Their first stop is the yearbook teacher, Mr. Cotter, who knows much more than he claims. But the more they investigate, the more the boys learn that Johnny's disappearance is far from an isolated incident.

And the question soon becomes: Can they uncover their Tennessee town's dark secret in time to avoid becoming its next victim.

Editor review

1 review
Ending a curse through forgiveness.
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
People in the town of Westfield have been disappearing over the years, and no trace of them has ever been found. No one notices a pattern except for a teacher, Mr. Cotter, who witnesses his friend’s disappearance when he was younger. Charlie feels sadness too when one of his classmates goes missing, but he’s devastated when his father dies while searching for the boy. Charlie has more information about the missing boy, but it’s unclear why he doesn’t share it with the police. Why won’t he tell them what he sees in the park?
The concepts of friendship and bullies are addressed, as Charlie and his buddies deal with life changes. Obviously, Charlie is struggling with the death of his father, and his mother is taking it especially hard. She’s considering moving back to Nashville even though they’ve lived in Westfield for less than a year. Charlie’s unaware of her thinking, and he’s fretting over how his best friend Ezra will be moving in a month or two. Ezra’s parents are recently divorced, so his mom is moving them to Oklahoma. Charlie will be losing his best friend, so they decide to help their friend Josey with his crime-solving-like podcast for one last summer adventure. The project comes with dangers, but the boys’ bond is a key to success, and survival.
The story is mostly a ghost story in addition to being a missing-person mystery. The rumored haunting at the site of the previous school introduces more possibilities as to what’s going on. The disappearances of twelve-year-old boys occur during severe storms, and witnesses say they feel cold and emptiness trying to engulf them. Mr. Cotter is first to notice the six-year pattern has changed this time, and he fears the emptiness has targeted one specific person. The incidents become more personal to the characters, as the author cranks up the eeriness and tension. The plot builds to an emotionally suspenseful climax that will have readers unable to put the book down.
What didn’t work as well:
Stories that follow one main character are easier to follow, but this book follows several. In addition, the story contains flashbacks with different characters that affect the flow of the overall plot. The changes don’t happen at regular intervals, and the time changes vary from twenty years to five minutes. It temporarily distracts the focus and makes me recalibrate what’s happening and doesn’t work as well for me.
The Final Verdict:
Ending a curse through forgiveness. The author masterfully transforms the story from the boys’ summer adventure into a terrifying ghost story. The intensity of the threat gradually increases until it becomes a matter of survival. Overall, I highly recommend you give this book a shot.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 3 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account