The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

By:  McLean, Felicity

$23.95 Paperback
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Algonquin Books

Limited ***

5.5 X 8.3 in
352 pg

FICTION / Thrillers / Psychological
FICTION / Coming of Age
FICTION / Mystery & Detective / International Mystery & Crime

"We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song, and when one came back? She wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with. Spring slunk off too. Skulked away into the scrub and there, standing in its place, was the summer that scorched the air and burned our nostrils and sealed in the stink. Like the lids on our Tupperware lunchboxes.
That summer was the hottest on record. It was the year the Cold War ended. The year they stopped making Atari 2600s forever. I was eleven and one sixth, but it wasn’t enough—by then we’d learned shadows disappeared in the dark."

Tikka Molloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long hot summer of 1992, growing up in an Australian suburb surrounded by encroaching bushland. The TV news in the background is filled with debate about the exoneration of Lindy ("dingo took my baby") Chamberlain. That summer was when the Van Apfel sisters—Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth—mysteriously disappeared during the school's Showstopper concert, held at the outdoor amphitheater by the river. Did they just run—far away from their strange, evangelical parents or overly involved teacher? Were they taken? And, in the end, was anyone actually watching out for them? While the search for the sisters unites the small community, the mystery of their disappearance has never been solved and Tikka and her older sister, Laura, have been haunted ever since by the loss of their best friends and playmates.

Now, years later, Tikka has returned home, to try to make sense of that strange moment in time, of the summer that left her frozen in the past, of the girls that she never forgot.

Brilliantly observed, spiky, funny, and unexpectedly endearing,The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is part mystery, part coming-of-age story--with a dark shimmering unexplained absence at its heart. 

“A smart, classy thriller blazing with the heat of Australia that slowly reveals its many layers.”
Fiona Mozley, author of Elmet, 2017 Man Booker Prize finalist

Felicity McLean is an author and journalist. Her writing has appeared in the Good Weekend, the Daily Telegraph, the Big Issue and more. She lives in Australia. This is her first novel.