Book List

Where Did the Parents Go?: 5 Books with Missing Parents

March 28, 2017
Jill Hacking
Riveted Editorial Board

Being a teenager means sometimes wanting to get as far away from your parents as possible…but it also means realizing how much you need them. After all, they may not be the coolest humans, but they’re the ones that always have your back. If your parent were to go missing, you’d want to find them right? In Tom Levine’s Hellworld, Abby finds herself in just that situation. Five years ago, Abby Booth’s mom, cohost of a ghost hunting reality show, went missing while filming in a ‘haunted’ cave in Arizona. Now she’s determined to go back to the cave and find out, once and for all, what really happened to her mom.

If you’re intrigued and want to know more about Abby’s story, we’re featuring an extended excerpt of Hellworld through April 3rd. Go check it out! If you finish that and find yourself itching for more of the parent-searching narrative (or if you feel like you could use some reads that will help you appreciate your parents more), you’re in luck! I’ve compiled a list of books with protagonists who are missing (in a variety of ways) a parent. Happy reading!

Hellworldby Tom Leveen

In an effort to put her family back together, a teen struggles to discover what happened to her mother who disappeared during a ghost hunt in this haunting new novel from the author of Party, Sick, and Shackled.

Five years ago, Abby Booth’s mom, cohost of a ghost hunting reality show, went missing while filming in a ‘haunted’ cave in Arizona.

Since then, Abby’s life has all but fallen to pieces, most notably because of her dad’s deep depression and how they’ve drifted further and further apart.

But now, at seventeen, Abby has decided that things will change. She plans to go to the same cave where her mom and the crew went missing and to find out, once and for all, what happened there.

With the help of the cohost’s son Charlie, and two of his friends, Abby sets off on a quest for answers…but when the group ends up finding, what they stumble across in that dark, primordial cave in Arizona, is nothing they could have ever imaged.

Abby was investigating a possible haunting…she never expected that there could be something worse.

City of Bonesby Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Armadaby Ernest Cline

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

The Other F Wordby Natasha Friend

Milo has two great moms, but he's never known what it's like to have a dad. When Milo's doctor suggests asking his biological father to undergo genetic testing to shed some light on Milo's extreme allergies, he realizes this is a golden opportunity to find the man he's always wondered about.

Hollis's mom Leigh hasn't been the same since her other mom, Pam, passed away seven years ago. But suddenly, Leigh seems happy―giddy, even―by the thought of reconnecting with Hollis's half-brother Milo. Hollis and Milo were conceived using the same sperm donor. They met once, years ago, before Pam died.

Now Milo has reached out to Hollis to help him find their donor. Along the way, they locate three other donor siblings, and they discover the true meaning of the other F-word: family.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Closeby Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history.

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

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