Lynn Fleming is an art graduate student – well, technically she’s a graduate student, but she has been busy accomplishing nothing on her dissertation since her affair with her professor, Michael, ended. With her grant money running out, Michael urges her to start producing, to “put out or get out” - an ironic choice of words considering their history.
Lynn’s mother calls to let her know she is booking her a ticket home as she is concerned about Wylie, Lynn’s brother, and his eco-freak friends who have influenced him to cut off connections not only to the material world but to his own mother. She dreads the thought of going home and doubts she has the energy. Then Michael calls, asking her to join him on a trip to Paris as his wife is unable to attend. Tired of his games, she tells him she’ll meet him at his apartment – and then flies home.
When she arrives at her mother’s, she soon falls into her regular routine of doing little and accomplishing nothing, especially when she finds out her mother is dating a married man. And not just any married man; he is their old neighbor, with a mentally ill wife and two sons who are total jocks and have never had much in common with Lynn or her brother.
While snooping in her mother’s room, she finds something of interest: a couple of intriguing paintings that once hung in their old living room. As she quizzes her mother about the pictures, her mother reminds Lynne why she is here – to find her brother, who has gone missing.
As Lynn tries to track down her brother at his apartment, she stumbles upon what appears to be a refuge of like-minded eco-warriors. Wylie, however, is not interested in seeing her or their mother and continues to evade them. She quickly falls for one of the troops, Angus, and is soon a regular at the apartment. Eventually bumping into her brother and re-building a relationship, she finds herself caught up in their mission. At the same time, she begins researching the artist who created the paintings, with the possibility of using them for her dissertation.
Between researching the paintings and keeping up with Angus, Wylie, and the weekly plots of revenge on the eco-destructors, Lynn’s life takes on a source of meaning and a semblance of normalcy. Things start to slide out of control quickly, however, and Lynn is forced to find herself among the chaos.
The Missing Person carries many voices, many messages, and much entertainment. Finely developed characters resonate long after the last page has turned. More than a message on the struggles of family, the perils of radical environmentalism, and the passion that both brings people together and pushes them apart, it is a call to the missing person in each of us.