A Fresh YA with Adult-Level Feels
Message Not Found Book Cover Message Not Found
Dante Medema
Teen & Young Adult Fiction
Quill Tree Books
March 29, 2022
ebook, hardcover

Bailey and Vanessa shared everything together: laughter, secrets, and packets of Pop Rocks to ward off bad days. But that all changed the night Vanessa left Bailey’s, headed for home, and ended up swerving off a cliff nowhere near her house. Now Bailey, who thought she knew Vanessa better than anyone in the world, is left with a million unanswered questions, and the only person with answers is gone.

To help grieve her loss, Bailey creates a chat bot in Vanessa’s likeness using years’ worth of their shared text messages and emails. The more data she uploads to the bot, the more it feels like she’s really talking to her best friend. That is, until the bot starts dropping hints that there was more going on with Vanessa than Bailey realized…A secret so big, it may have contributed to Vanessa’s death.

“It’s not the secrets that matter when people we love die, but the memories we keep in our heart.” —Dante Medema, Message Not Found

Message Not Found by Dante Medema is hands down one of the top reads for 2022, and it is absolutely worthy of your time and attention.

Ok just listen. A YA book that openly confronts grief, friendship, the idea of betrayal, and AI? Just those aspects makes it a little wild, maybe slightly unhinged, but with some Dante Magic it all comes together to create a beautiful book.

Dante Medema brings Bailey to life in a way that I think truly cements how literature has changed for the better. While her prose is contemporary and fresh, it’s also full of beautiful phrases, descriptions, and emotions that even with all the technology references I can see how Message Not Found will be a timeless classic in its own right.

With just two books in her catalogue, Medema is one of those authors that knows who she is and understands exactly how to deliver the stories she wants to share with the world. That aspect in itself is magic—just like each of her books.

“Moments are like snowflakes; they look the same to everyone, but up close, they’re different. And if you don’t take the chance to look close when they fall, you miss them.” —Dante Medema, Message Not Found

What would a senior in high school know and understand about grief? More than you think. Bailey’s journey is one that hits you in the feels but makes your heart soar too. Best Friends are like family. The friendship between girls run closer to a sisterhood more than anything and yet when one friend is tragically ripped away from this earth, picking up the pieces and living life is not without mess.

I adored how grief is addressed in Message Not Found. I’m well-versed in this particular emotion and while I was prepared to be wrecked emotionally by Bailey’s story. Instead, I felt more like a proud momma. Like I could have easily been Jes-Mom while watching Bailey navigate through her last semester as a senior in high school. Grief isn’t a main character here— it’s just the catalyst for all of Bailey’s decisions, feelings, and actions that make this story so unique…because we all do crazy things in face of grief.

Even if you’re not a fan of YA, Message Not Found is truly a special book that deserves your time and attention. Friendship is transcendent of age and so is grief. This beautiful book speaks volumes on both topics. I definitely think Message Not Found is worth the read, and then pass it along to your all your friends. Message Not Found is a book that should be talked about. Go forth and talk about it, book friends!

Brava, Dante!