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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Set You Free, written by Jeff Ross. Orca, 2015. $14.95 ages 12 and up

"We move around Dumpsters and garbage bags, staying away from the few remaining lights as much as possible. I begin to run toward the car, and one of Grady's too-big shoes slips from my foot. I trip and go down. It seems as if I've barely hit the ground before I feel Grady's hands beneath my arms, lifting me back up. "You okay?" he says. I glance down at my knees which seem fine."

Lauren loves five-year-old Ben. She is his babysitter and is devastated when he disappears. What makes it even more disconcerting is that Lauren's brother Tom goes missing at the same time. Because of that and because Tom was last seen near Ben's family home, the police make him their prime suspect in the kidnapping.

Laurel is loyal to her brother and sure that he has nothing to do with it. The police are not convinced and put a tracker in her phone, hoping that she will lead them to her brother. When she meets Tom's friend Grady ( a skilled hacker), she realizes she has an accomplice willing to help clear his name. Together, they manage to evade police and hack into the computers belonging to members of Ben's family. There, they discover secrets about his sister and brother. Not only that, they make some damning discoveries about Ben's father, the mayor.

Convinced that the mayor has something to do with the disappearance, their search leads them to a secret cabin. Ben is not there, but Lauren finds clear evidence concerning the mayor's questionable actions. She assures protection for herself by sending all evidence to the media and to the police.

A surprise twist brings the story full circle. Tense and fast-paced, I was engaged in the reading from start to finish. Teen readers will be intrigued by the mystery, sympathetic to the situation, and caught up in the plot's action. It leaves room for discussion concerning the laws broken, and certain moral issues. Ultimately, it provides a reading experience that I think its intended audience will find most satisfying.

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