The Stranger Game by Cylin Busby

The Stranger Game by Cylin Busby. October 25, 2016. Balzer + Bray, 288 p. ISBN: 9780062354600.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

When Nico Morris’s older sister mysteriously disappears, her parents, family, and friends are devastated. But Nico can never admit what she herself feels: relief at finally being free of Sarah’s daily cruelties.

Then the best and worst thing happens: four years later, after dozens of false leads, Sarah is found.

But this girl is much changed from the one Nico knew. She’s thin and drawn, when Sarah had been golden and athletic; timid and unsure, instead of brash and competitive; and strangest of all, sweet and kind, when she had once been mean and abusive. Sarah’s retrograde amnesia has caused her to forget almost everything about her life, from small things like the plots of her favorite books and her tennis game to the more critical—where she’s been the last four years and what happened at the park on the fateful day she vanished. Despite the happy ending, the dark details of that day continue to haunt Nico, and it becomes clear that more than one person knows the true story of what happened to Sarah….

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Physical and emotional abuse


Book Trailer


Booklist (October 15, 2016 (Online))
Grades 7-10. Nico Walker both admired and feared her beautiful, popular, and often cruel older sister, Sarah. When Sarah goes missing after sneaking out to meet her boyfriend in the park, Nico’s family is consumed by her disappearance and the continued, desperate search to find her. Four years later, after a multitude of heart-wrenchingly false leads, Sarah is located, but the competitive, athletic golden girl has changed. Sarah can’t remember anything about the years that she has been gone or even about her life before she went missing. And as much as Nico has longed for her sister’s return, she’s having trouble believing in Sarah’s newfound kindness. With compelling, memorable storytelling, Busby (The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs, 2016) captures the complicated and often fraught relationship between siblings, especially in the aftermath of family trauma. Eerie and evocative, this thriller will likely inspire return visits to pick up on previously missed clues, and plenty of plot twists will keep readers guessing.

Publishers Weekly (August 29, 2016)
It’s been four years since 15-year-old golden girl Sarah Morris disappeared from Pennsylvania’s MacArthur Park. Her sister, Nico, now 15 herself, has gotten used to Sarah’s disappearance eclipsing nearly every aspect of her family life. When they get a call from a children’s center in Florida claiming that Sarah is alive and suffering from amnesia, they immediately hop a plane. Nico doesn’t know what to think, but she does know that this thin, pale girl is a shadow of the sister she once knew, the sister who physically and emotionally abused her on an almost daily basis. This Sarah is kind and warm, and as Nico spends more time with her, the evidence mounts that a stranger may be among them. Busby’s (Blink Once) tense mystery alternates between Nico and Sarah’s points of view, using the tactic of an unreliable narrator to great effect while exploring how tragedy can alter every detail of a family’s existence. A final twist leads to a surprising and utterly satisfying conclusion. Ages 13-up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

About the Author

Cylin Busby is the author of several teen books and numerous articles as well as the acclaimed young adult memoir, The Year We Disappeared, which was a Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Cybils Award winner.

The former Senior Editor of Teen Magazine, Cylin now lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Her website is

Around the Web

The Stranger Game on Amazon

The Stranger Game on JLG

The Stranger Game on Goodreads



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