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The Night She Disappeared Summary
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of The Night She Disappeared by April Henry.
The Night She Disappeared is a young adult thriller by April Henry. Published in 2012 by Henry Holt, the novel tells the story of a teenage girl kidnapped on a pizza delivery, and the other girl who discovers that she was the one the perpetrator meant to kidnap. The book was nominated for the 2015 Missouri Gateway Readers Award. Henry was first published at 12 years old, in an international magazine. She has since authored multiple books for young adults and frequently appears on state reading lists. She also writes mysteries and thrillers for adult readers.
The protagonist is a girl called Gabie. She works as a delivery girl for a takeaway place called Pete’s Pizza. She drives a fancy car, a Mini Cooper, and everyone knows her by that car. She often works with a girl called Kayla, who’s also a delivery girl. Sometimes, they wonder if their jobs are safe, because there are a lot of strange people out there, but they worry that they’re being paranoid.
When the novel opens, an employee called Drew answers the phone at Pete’s Pizza. It’s a man who calls himself “John Robertson,” and he’s looking for three pizzas. Drew says he’ll send a delivery girl over right away, but John isn’t finished yet. He asks if the girl who drives the Mini Cooper can make the delivery. Drew says she’s not working, and he doesn’t question why the man asks this. Drew sends Kayla over with the delivery. Kayla, however, never returns.
Drew tries to contact Kayla, but she doesn’t pick up. He eventually calls the police, because she’s never late from deliveries like this. He’s also starting to wonder why John asked for a specific delivery girl. When the police go and check out the address, they see that her car is still switched on and the door’s wide open.
Meanwhile, Gabie finds out that Kayla is missing. She feels guilty because she was supposed to work the Wednesday shift, but she asked Kayla to swap with her. Drew tells her that it’s not her fault, but she can’t help feeling like it is. She feels worse when the police find a bloodstained rock by the river nearby, and they think it’s Kayla’s blood. From then on, this becomes a hunt for a dead body.
The possibility of murder shakes this small town, and everyone starts talking. Rumours spread that it is somehow Gabie’s fault, because she didn’t work the shift she was supposed to. Gabie’s horrified, and Drew confirms the suspicions—the man on the phone asked for the delivery girl who drives the Mini Cooper. When Gabie tells the police this, they don’t take it seriously. They want to keep all their options open, which frustrates her.
Gabie doesn’t tell her parents about the strange call, because she doesn’t want to worry them. Her parents are surgeons at the local hospital, and they’re under a lot of stress. She’s alone a lot, and they don’t see how Kayla’s disappearance is affecting her. She turns to Drew, who’s her only other friend.
Drew’s mother is an addict, and he lives a chaotic life, but they at least have the pizza place in common. As Drew and Gabie spend more time together, they fall for each other. Although their lives are so different, they’re determined to make it work, and Gabie’s happy to have someone who understands what she’s feeling. When Pete, the owner of the pizza place, decides no girls will be taking out deliveries from now on, Gabie lets Drew borrow her car.
Meanwhile, there’s a development in Kayla’s case. Someone spots an unusual white pick-up truck near the river, and it belongs to a boy called Cody. The police decide he must be the perpetrator without looking much into him. The town relaxes as Cody gets locked up pending trial.
Drew and Gabie, however, are not so convinced. They question the police about Cody, because they haven’t found a body and they don’t have any evidence linking Cody to the crime other than his vehicle. The police tell them to stop worrying because there’s no other logical explanation. In the meantime, Pete still won’t let Gabie go out on deliveries, because he’s not convinced, either.
Gabie believes Kayla is still alive, and she’s determined to find out for sure. Drew acts as bait and drives Gabie’s car on a delivery to the same spot Kayla disappeared. What they discover is that Gabie’s right—Kayla is alive, and she’s being held hostage by the man who made the call.
We don’t find out much about the killer, other than that he originally stalked Gabie and intended to lock her up like he locked up Kayla. However, Drew and Gabie rescue Kayla and the perpetrator, who may or may not be called John, gets taken away.