Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean
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really liked it
bookshelves: net-galley, review-books, australian-womens-writers-challenge, australian-author

‘We saw more of those girls after they disappeared than we ever did before.’

In the summer of 1992, when Tikka Malloy was ‘eleven and one-sixth old’, her three best friends — the three Van Apfel sisters— disappeared. Two families, living in the suburbs. Mr and Mrs Van Apfel and their daughters Hannah, Cordelia and Ruth. Mr and Mrs Malloy and their daughters Laura and Tikka (a nickname everyone seems to use). And, as Tikka remembers, the Azaria Chamberlain case is the background to her childhood. Parents hover, vigilant over their children. The girls have secrets, both from their parents and from each other.
Twenty years later and still haunted by the disappearance of the Van Apfel girls, Tikka returns home to visit her older sister and parents.

Tikka is the narrator of this story, which moves between her childhood and the present. Tikka was an observant child but not always able to understand what she saw. There are some delightfully humorous passages, and other passages where any adult reading would want to reach into the narrative and intervene. But we can’t do that, we can only travel with Tikka as the story slowly unfolds.

So what happened to the Van Apfel girls? Tikka feels guilty: both she and her sister Laura knew that the Van Apfel girls were planning to run away, but they never mentioned it to the police. But did they run away, or were they taken? The girls disappear from an outdoor school concert. There’s a teacher who seemed a little too interested in Cordelia, and there’s Mr Van Apfel who was a controlling and violent man. Some people knew this but chose to keep quiet. Laura and Tikka are not the only ones who kept secrets from the police. As we find out, twenty years later, the local Tupperware saleswoman and local busy-body, Mrs McCausley also withheld information.

I finished this novel wishing that (some) of the adults had made different choices. I felt for Tikka, whose knowledge of events was incomplete, and whose interpretation is coloured by her age.

This is a really impressive debut novel and one that will stay with me.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Reading Progress

April 2, 2019 – Started Reading
April 2, 2019 – Shelved
April 2, 2019 – Shelved as: net-galley
April 2, 2019 – Shelved as: review-books
April 2, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-author
April 2, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-womens-writers-challenge
April 2, 2019 –
April 3, 2019 –
April 3, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Dale (new)

Dale Harcombe Interesting review Jennifer.

Jennifer (JC-S) It's an interesting novel, Dale. Have you read it?

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