John R. Kess
Fifteen-year-old Dylan Beachley's family is shattered when his older sister Hannah is kidnapped from their rural New Hampshire home while he slept just one floor away. Weeks of searching by volunteers and local law enforcement provides no clues to Hannah’s whereabouts. Determined to find her after the official search is suspended, Dylan sets out using his extensive knowledge of the forest to search for his sister. He is joined by Molly, an energetic fifteen-year-old who just moved to the area with her drug addict mother and her mother’s drug dealing boyfriend. As Dylan and Molly search hundreds of acres surrounding the Appalachian Trail, they must deal with the rugged wilderness, Dylan’s grief stricken family, and Molly’s abusive home life as the two refuse to give up their goal — Finding Hannah.
campsite and ate a late supper of turkey jerky and dried apples. We took turns in the tent changing into our black clothes. Molly wore black jeans and turned her black sweatshirt inside out to hide the logo, and I wore dark green pants with a black hooded sweatshirt. She sat facing me on the crumbling rock wall surrounding our tent, holding face paint. “Close your eyes,” she said. She used her finger to rub the face paint under my eyes, forehead, chin, and nose. The sun was going down and,
the house we’d walked past hours before. We were on a hill looking down at the house, which had a deck with a sliding-glass door. The backyard was surrounded by tight clumps of trees, allowing us to get quite close without being seen. The sun had set, and the blue sky was retreating into the distance. I used the spotting scope and Molly used her binoculars to watch a man walking around what appeared to be the kitchen. “It looks like he just got done eating,” Molly said. A black-haired girl
softly. She shook her head. “Look at that.” She pointed to the cliff across the field from us. A vertical crack formed at the top and opened up near the bottom to form what looked like the entrance to a cave. The small trailer was parked next to it. I didn’t see or hear anyone else. “Let’s go check it out.” The trailer was padlocked, and I tapped on the side of it. “Anyone in there?” I asked. We heard no response. I led the way as we walked through the narrow entrance into the rocky cave. I
milk all over herself. It was clear she was trying very hard to make sure every one of Amy’s friends had a good time. I noticed how tired she looked. The last month had aged her several years. Dad sat down across from me. “It’s good to have you here,” he said. “I know you’d rather be out looking for Hannah, but this means a lot to Amy.” He looked at the castle and then back at me. “I’m proud of you, proud of the way you refuse to give up.” “Thanks, Dad.” Amy shouted, “Look at me!” She flew
soon followed by a blanket of snow, and I knew school wasn’t optional. He looked at me, still waiting for an answer. I didn’t like it, but the fact I had a deadline to find Hannah just made me want to search harder, faster, and further than I had before. I nodded. “If I haven’t found her by then, I’m done searching the forest.” “Find her, Dylan. Find her and bring her home.” * * * We arrived home after dark. I wished Amy happy birthday one more time and said good night to everyone. I was