Sixteen-year-old Michie and her best friend (a.k.a. “sister”) Trissa grew up together in the dilapidated duplex their single moms own. Over the past few months however, the girls have drifted apart as they find themselves in very different circles: Trissa is dancing at one of the city’s hottest nightclubs and skipping school, while Michie is obsessively rereading A Girl’s Guide to Murder and reconciling herself to the fact that Anwar, whom she has been in love with forever, is dating Kelli D.
When Michie wakes up after a night out with their friends to find Trissa gone, she doesn’t think much of it, until police show up the next night saying that Trissa’s stuff was found abandoned in the alley behind the club where she works. Michie is hell-bent on finding Trissa, despite the cops writing her off as a young party girl who has likely met an untimely end. As both girls’ mothers unravel in their grief, Michie teams up with Anwar to search for their friend, and suddenly finds herself in a real-life detective situation. With a suspected serial killer on the loose, will Michie and Anwar be able to figure out what happened to Trissa before it’s too late?
Set in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto, How to Be Found is an unflinching representation of teens on the cusp of adulthood: the choice of friends as family and the need to define oneself and forge one’s own identity.
Pohl-Weary does an excellent job with setting the scene, character development, and establishing the mystery element of the novel, but the ending feels somewhat rushed compared to the organic unfolding of the story. The conclusion feels almost too easy, based on the early set-up of the book, and disappointingly, the serial killer element is not explored to its full potential.
Despite the novel’s inconsistent pacing, this is a coming-of-age story that is full of heart, and the eclectic cast of characters means that there is something for every reader. Michie and Trissa desire their own independence, but they discover that they are not quite ready to leave the safety and familiarity of their matriarchal families. This portrayal of late adolescence will resonate with readers who are forging their own identities.