#CBCAReview: The Ones That Disappeared

The Ones that Disappeared by Zara Fraillion

What is this about?: Esra, Miran and Isa have been kidnapped and are working for a gang, tending to the their drugs. This is the story of their escape.

What else is this about?: Child Trafficking. About finding hope where you can and holding steady until you get through it all.

Blurb: Kept by a ruthless gang, three children manage to escape from slavery. But freedom isn’t just waiting on the outside.

Separated, scared and looking after a small child, Esra will do whatever she can to reunite with her friend Miran, who was captured by the police – the police who she mustn’t trust.

Hiding in the shadows of the forest, Esra is found by a local boy, a boy with his own story. Together they will create a man out of mud. A man who will come to life and lead them through a dark labyrinth of tunnels until they finally have the courage the step above ground. Until they finally have the courage to speak their story. Until they finally have the courage to be free.

This was not an easy read for me, though that is a testament to Zana Fraillion’s writing more than anything. I was exhausted by the time I finished this book, but if a book can make your emotions run riot, perhaps that’s a good thing?

This is about child trafficking, about Esra, Miran and Isa who are trapped or kidnapped and kept tending to plants (drugs) for the Snakeskin gang. They grasp hope where they can, encouraging each other to be strong in the face of what they’re forced to do, including the awful beatings used to keep them under control. If Esra is the realist in this story, Miran is the dreamer, the one who finds jokes where he can, while little Isa just isn’t ready yet to face what’s happened to him.

Read the rest of my review here


  • Wow – this sounds like an intense one. I appreciate these realistic stories though.

  • Oh my gosh… I don’t think I could do this one. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that since becoming a mother I really struggle with things about kids and child trafficking just.. Yeah. I think it would be too intense and too emotional. But I love that it managed to stir your emotions like that – I think it sounds like a very well written book, just one that I’m too terrified to read. ?

    • Verushka says:

      I confess, I would not pick another one up like this to read after this. my emotions were all over the place after reading a CardBoard Palace, which was about homeless children and child brides, and this after that, so I was an utter wreck by the end of this. A powerful story, Di, but I totally understand where you’re coming from.

  • I feel like this is a premise you don’t generally see. But I think the fact that you were exhausted by the end shows how well-written the book was!

    • Verushka says:

      It’s a difficult topic to do right, I think. I ZF’s writing is confident, especially in her characters’ writing and it shows — and makes for an amazing if exhausting read.

  • Evelina says:

    This sounds like a very tough book to read. I don’t know if I could handle reading about a subject this tough. But that cover is amazing!

  • I don’t mind reading an emotionally harrowing tale from time to time, so long as it’s well written. From what you’ve said about Fraillon’s writing being tender and almost fragile, it sounds like I’d really enjoy this one too.

  • We went to the linked site and read the whole review, which is wonderful. This sounds heart-breaking, but we appreciate the theme of “finding hope where you can and holding steady until you get through it all.” This seems beautifully written and well executed so we might have to give it a try. Thank you for putting this one on our radar, Verushka.

  • Greg says:

    Sounds like a powerful read, and yeah intense. But it sounds like it was a rewarding experience too. I don’t usually read books like this since they’re a little TOO close to real life sometimes, but it is important for people to understand too. Great review, thanks!

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