The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

By Felicity McLean

Set in an Australian suburb surrounded by encroaching bushland during the hottest summer on record, The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is part mystery, part coming-of-age story—with a dark shimmering unexplained absence at its heart.

Tikka Molloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long hot summer of 1992, growing up in an Australian suburb with her sister and three best friends. 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 a smart debut for fans of Megan Abbott or Emma Cline.

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Felicity McLean

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Review quotes
“A smart, classy thriller that blazes with the heat of Australia and slowly reveals its many layers.”
Fiona Mozley, author of Elmet, 2017 Man Booker Prize finalist
Product Details
Number of pages
Publication date
June 25, 2019
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