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Quantum Girl Theory

2.96  ·  Rating details ·  320 ratings  ·  76 reviews
On December 1, 1946, Paula Jean Welden put on a bright red parka, left her Bennington college dorm for a hike, and vanished. Eighteen, white, blonde, wealthy; her story captivated a nation, but she was never found.

Each chapter of Quantum Girl Theory imagines a life Paula Jean Welden may have lived after she left that room: in love with a woman in a Communist cell and runni
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published March 8th 2022 by Random House
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Average rating 2.96  · 
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Dec 04, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quantum Girl Theory is a meandering, cross-temporal musing on the mystery of missing girls. Drawing inspiration from the case of Paula Welden, a Bennington college student who disappeared in 1946, this book follows a few strands of plots centering around what may have happened to Paula and who she became after vanishing into the Vermont woods. I found the premise extremely promising, but the execution left me a bit underwhelmed. I found myself a bit confused by the circuitous vignettes, and the ...more
Allison Wyss
Jan 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful and dangerous book that will haunt me for a long time. The prose is elegant and playful. The story is, too. In other books, when a girl goes missing, she is erased. In other books, we get the story of the people around her: their grief, their search, their revenge. But this book sticks with the girl, imagining her life, her many other possible lives. It interrogates the usual erasure in smart and subversive ways. But it's also just a good story--suspenseful, compelling, and u ...more
Feb 05, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was attracted to this book because the premise is based on a true crime: a young woman disappears while hiking and is never seen again.
The proposition is that this girl went on to become a seeker of other lost girls, a clairvoyant of sorts. This is a captivating concept, but the focus is continually bogged down and blurred by meandering thoughts.
While the writing style, concept, and intrigue are good, this storyline was difficult to follow.
Sincere thanks to Random House Publishing Group- Ran
Lilibet Bombshell
This book is so much more than what it says on the box (or, in the blurb, if you will). This is no run-of-the-mill historical fiction or women’s detective mystery. This book is part lyrical prose, part ghost story, part historical fiction, part detective story, part suspense, part thriller, and a whole lot of brilliant commentary on how missing girls are treated in America.

Our narrator is a sad sack. I’m sorry, but she really is. But that’s why I like her. She is, in a way, a miserable human be
Kim Barbella
Dec 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quantum Girl Theory
By: Erin Kate Ryan
Publication date: March 8, 2022
Date Reviewed: December 23, 2021

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group- Random House, Erin Kate Ryan & NetGalley, for allowing me access to this arc in exchange for my honest review.

Quantum Girl Theory is quite a great read! I’m sad it’s over, I will Definitely be purchasing this one for my own library at home… I absolutely Loved the book & am really looking forward to more work by Erin Kate Ryan. This was the first book
The staple plot of many a mystery novel, young women who vanish, and real-life perils of young women collide in this arresting first novel that begins with the 1946 disappearance of Bennington co-ed Paula Jean Welden and spins into stories and speculation about the fates of girls who have gone missing. Among these girls, is Mary Garrett who hires herself out as a finder of missing girls. Mary is driven by an unreliable second sight. Her existence is precarious and, like the women in the novel, s ...more
Mar 03, 2022 rated it did not like it
I really love books about missing persons, so when I was invited to read this one, it sounded right up my alley! While this is based on a real missing persons case - of a young college woman who disappeared on March 1, 1946 - this is more of an experimental fiction book than a mystery. Ryan offers a multitude of Paula Jeans - where she may have been or might have gone - though the most detailed version puts her with a new name and given second sight that she uses to find other missing women. In ...more
Feb 08, 2022 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have been trying to read this book for 5 days and have only gotten a 1/4 of it read. This is based on a true crime, that happened on December 1, 1946. Paula goes missing and the story is about what could have happened to her. Killed, ran away, captured and held captive by someone, or, as the book, a seer (clairvoyant).

I love True Crime. They always intrigue me, so I figured I would love this. Not so. While the premise is good, even great, to me it just got bogged down. I kept wanting something
Mahrya Q
Jun 20, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was...meh. The premise is what interested me, but the execution was not what I had hoped. Based on a true crime and mixed quantum theory this book could have been genius. The concept was genius. The story was slow and often confusing.
Dec 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
This book tells, in part, the story of Paula Welden, a woman who went missing in Vermont in the 1940s, though through a fictional lens. I found the story intriguing, This story tells a hypothetical end to Paula's story - as she was never found. I enjoyed the writing and storytelling, though at times found it slightly meandering. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2022 and I am very pleased to have read it early!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the chance to read this book!
Doreena Silva
Apr 17, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, arc, net-galley
Interesting book based on a true crime that read too slow for me. I really enjoy true crime but in this book I kept waiting for a something big to happen and nothing really popped.
Thank you to Netgalley, Random House and the Author, Erin Kate Ryan for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Tessa Talks Books
Quantum Girl Theory by Erin Kate Ryan is a historical mystery mixed with a quantum physics theory resulting in the idea that missing girls have an unlimited possibility of realities that creates various worlds within which they may live. I think the premise is very intriguing, and it carried me through reading this atmospheric novel written from 3rd person perspective. I’ve always found quantum theory fascinating. Unfortunately, the story was very dry and confusing at various points, making it h ...more
I was interested in the historical fiction aspect of this story. I was hoping there would be a pay off with the story switching from present to past. It never came. The only connections were using the characters in past and present. Then giving them small back stories. This book read like three smaller stories poorly sewn together. There is no closure. I read until the end because I was in disbelief that this was all I was going to get from this book.
Unfortunately I was asked about this book and trying to describe it just convinced me how much it sucked.
Stacey Lunsford
Using the real-life unsolved disappearance of Paula Jean Belden in 1946 as a jumping-off point, the author alternates between chapters in which Paula's life might have unfolded in different ways from that point and chapters in which Paula, using the pseudonym Mary, has visions which lead her to find other missing girls. The chapters about her searching for missing girls focuses on the disappearance of a white girl and two Black girls in the 1960s.

The language is lush and the tone is dreamy. The
Aug 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book!! 😍😍😍 The suspense kept me turning the pages, the smart writing and character and settings all through the book impressed me. The topic of missing girls, and the clever interplay of the many people one person could be, once reality’s container is crashed open—that whole thing gave me so much to think about. And though I didn’t expect it, I saw myself in these pages—in the way I shame myself continually though no one would blame me, in the way women are always constrained by other ...more
Brooke Walter
Aug 14, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elements of “the things they carried” combined with a modern true crime central plot, where what is “true” may be elusive but it’s the feelings and the emotion that ring truest. Some readers seem to find the book “meandering” or disjointed, but I felt that it was purposely designed this way and was part of the allure and craft of the prose.

With interweaving possibilities and the unlimited potential of a missing girl’s true narrative. “Once she is gone a missing girl becomes everything that ever
Aug 11, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I started this book I honestly had no idea what to expect. While reading this book you follow a character who is trying to solve the mystery of why this girl went missing and if she is dead, who killed her? I listened to this book on audio because it does have some interviews and articles in it and I love listening to those types of media. However, it only added to the story and I read it in one sitting! I just wish it would've been a little bit longer. ...more
Jane Chefitz
Apr 03, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the idea and the way the story was told with small vignettes around a more major story all imagining what the lives of a missing girl could be. It's a book that I need to read again to truly understand the ending. 4/5 ...more
Jan 12, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: winter-21-22
Mind. Fuck. Original idea.
Dec 14, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy (Bossy Bookworm)
In Erin Kate Ryan's recently published historical fiction mystery Quantum Girl Theory, Mary Garrett focuses on finding missing girls, and she keeps her own past, her secrets, and her emotions about all of it penned up tightly.

When she arrives in the Jim Crow South to investigate a girl who has disappeared, she finds that two Black girls went missing as well, but local law enforcement hasn't put resources into finding them.

As Mary's search for all three girls intensifies, we find that Mary herse
May 04, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1950s, lgbtq
I was drawn to this book as a Shirley Jackson fan, being aware of the influence the missing Paula Jean Weldon had on Jackson's local community and her own writing and I loved the premise of this book--the Quantum Girl Theory that a missing girl lives many possible lives. However, it wasn't an easy book to read.

Half of the book is the book-current story of Paula Jean, now reinvented as Mary, as she uses her clairvoyant skills to hopefully bring home missing girls or at least information about wh
Diane Hernandez
“Quantum Girl Theory: Once she is gone, a missing girl becomes everything that everyone thinks she might be; our theories create her fate.”

Mary is a psychic in 1961. She is trying to help find a missing girl in North Carolina even though she is eyed with suspicion by the entire town. They believe she is a fraud out only for the $7000 reward money.

Mary is also a missing girl herself. Originally named Paula, she disappeared fifteen years earlier. The details of the many different ways she could ha
Mar 02, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erin Kate Ryan’s complicated novel, Quantum Girl Theory, begins with a preface that explains the eponymous theory in a stuttering series of images that offer possible endings to a story that begins with a girl putting on a red parka. In some of the endings, she lives. In most, however, she meets a frightening death because the world is full of people looking to take advantage of those they consider weaker. Our protagonist, once a missing girl herself, unfortunately gets flashes of these endings ...more
Jun 01, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating and disturbing book. The thesis of the story, spelled out explicitly in the prologue is that a missing girl becomes all the different things that people expect her to be. Each possible life creates a new world in which that is the life path of the missing girl.

Ms. Ryan takes over a dozen newspaper clippings and other historical artifacts pertaining to the actual disappearance of Paula Jean Welden, a sophomore at Bennington College, in Vermont, and weaves an intricate story
Shannon Lagore
The real rating is actually 3.5, but I chose to round down for the review because the .5 really doesn’t come in until the last three sections.

I went into this book not knowing much about it, as I won it from a goodreads giveaway. It was shorter than I expected. I was expecting vignettes of different possible outcomes of Paula Jean Weldon’s disappearance, but instead we got only a few possibilities with a big focus on one of those possibilities. It was hard for me to really get my bearings for t
Kris Hansen
Jul 02, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: signed
Exquisitely written novel which takes the idea of our lives existing in multiple timelines and applies it to the case of a missing college student, based on a real young woman from 1946 in Vermont. This book checks so many boxes for me: finely crafted, well-researched (actual newspaper clippings throughout), and local interest, as Welden disappeared in the town where I live. Add in deftly handled themes of women trapped in the patriarchy and heteronormativity along with a murder mystery thread a ...more
Sep 15, 2022 rated it it was ok

I was intrigued by the book description, and while other reviewers were slightly disparaging, I thought I would give it a chance. At first, I was pulled in to the story of the missing girl….then I was interested in Mary who does whatever she has to to be invited into the case to find a missing girl, but then the author lost me. In jumping to theory after theory, the book lost some of its power, and it was hard to keep track of what was going on. I would have loved if the author had ch
I found this book to be very unique in both style and content. The prologue sets it up quite well - a girl goes missing, and there are endless possibilities in what might have happened to her. This book explores those possibilities in many ways. There is one main storyline throughout the book, interspersed with chapters about other lives the missing girl could have lived - all of them quite different, but sharing certain characters or events. It took me some time to understand the structure, but ...more
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