Four couples are thrown together by a parent’s worst nightmare when their children are kidnapped by a fake camp counselor and held for ransom. Lena Trainor, the protagonist, blames herself for overlooking clues that the so-called counselor was a phony, and blames her husband, David, for not being there to send their daughter Sarah off to her first overnight camp. Lena’s anguish and helplessness are expressed in vivid detail and her family’s dynamics, along with the other families’ agendas, propel the narrative—the results of which end up pitting families against one another and challenging the police investigators.
Magee also tells the story alternately from the kidnappers’ and children’s points of view, with Sarah Trainor stepping up and assuming a quasi-leadership role among the kids. The author’s habit of switching points of view within a scene creates a distancing effect at times, but the scene-to-scene perspective flipping effectively builds suspense. And though the resolution strains credulity a bit, Magee writes with the kind of emotional, dramatic punch that makes readers care enough about Sarah and her parents to stick with Never Wave Goodbye up to its finish.