[[ BOOKS ]] ⚦ The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone Author Felicity McLean – Avshao.info
I can t put my finger on the why of it, but this book took me forever to finish The I read, the I appreciated the skill with which the author crafted the childhood summer slowly rolling along and the intricacies of the relationships between the girls, who were neighbors and friends Those atmospheric entities felt like characters in this hazy, out of reach mystery that might make you wonder if the answer is there within the pages once you have closed the book Unique and sad, with points made at the end which cast the story s meaning in a different light 3.5 stars because despite all of this, it wasn t all that compelling for me I loved the writing and the uncomfortable mystery though, so I will look forward to her next book. To me, this darkly themed story had a slight literary fiction feel, and I don t love that genre In saying that, I was okay with it Set in the early 1990 s, this tale of three sisters who simply go missing on the night of the school concert, leaves the reader with a lot of pondering to do Full of Aussie colloquialisms, and extremely well told, we witness the young Van Apfel sisters, bought up in a disturbingly warped religious household Tikka I loved this name is their precocious whip smart neighbour and mate is our narrator, she s a feisty girl and oh so smart A strange and frightening river town full of even stranger characters, we never really get the full gist of what is going on An ungodly holy man with a spineless wife, a teacher who is not straight up, and families just being families in the suburbs gives us a confusing sense of some misdirected young girls without bearings nor an anchor to give them any sense of safety I was listening to this audio read with such intensity at the very end that I missed my freeway exit one Sunday night, but I do remember driving along thinking I need to know , please Australian literature fans will be sure to like this beguiling offering. Part Mystery, Part Coming Of Age Story, The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone Is Set In A Distant Suburb On The Encroaching Bushland, Over The Long Hot Summer Of 1992 It S The Summer Of The School S Showstopper Concert The Summer Tikka Never Forgot The Summer The Van Apfel Sisters Disappeared Blackly Comic, Sharply Observed And Wonderfully Endearing 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 Tikka Molloy Was Eleven And One Sixth Years Old During The Long Hot Summer Of 1992 The Summer The Van Apfel Sisters Disappeared Hannah, Beautiful Cordelia And Ruth Vanished During The Night Of The School S Showstopper Concert At The Amphitheatre By The River, Surrounded By Encroaching Bushland.Now, Years Later, Tikka Has Returned Home To Try And Make Sense Of The Summer That Shaped Her, And The Girls That She Never Forgot.Blackly Comic, Sharply Observed And Wonderfully Endearing, This Is Picnic At Hanging Rock For A New Generation, A Haunting Coming Of Age Story With A Shimmering, Unexplained Mystery At Its Heart. This was a different sort of mystery crossed with coming of age, and I loved it Tikka Malloy s playmates, the Van Apfel sisters, disappeared when she was eleven years old It s a mystery haunting her and her sister, Laura, for years Ruth, Hannah, and Cordelia have harsh, religious parents, and it s never been known if they ran away or were taken Tikka has now returned home as an adult to try to grasp just what happened to the sisters that summer If you are looking for a fresh take on a suspenseful read, this is your book The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is an engaging mystery, as well as a campy coming of age story It s a compelling page turner, and I ve read nothing remotely like this premise or the way in which it was executed The story has a melancholy tone, and the writing is lush and descriptive I loved the Australia setting Tikka and Laura shoulder some blame, as children often do, when things like this happen, whether it s warranted or not McLean captures the poignancy in their emotions, as well those as rippling through the small community from which these girls are lost Overall, The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is uniquely its own story It s captivating, original, and keeps you guessing There s a haze of ambiguity, and my mind was spinning This is just how I like my mysteries I received a complimentary copy All opinions are my own.My reviews can also be found on my blog www.jennifertarheelreader.com The Van Apfel Girls Are Goneis well written, easy to read, easily devoured in an afternoon It s slick, but conventional it s too easy to see the film adaptation playing out in your head Set mostly in 1992, there s plenty of nostalgia for Gen X Aussies sunnyboys by the pool a slumber party complete with half arsed s ance hearing about the Azaria Chamberlain case in the news The child narrator is endearing, and the author really seems to get the dynamics between adolescent preteen girls The blurb blazons some big name comparisons So, is this like Picnic at Hanging Rock Only inasmuch as it s set in Australia and some girls go missing Is it like The Virgin Suicides Only inasmuch as those suburban girls are three blonde sisters This novel sits in that crossover zone between commercial literary fiction, along with books like Jasper Jones but without the theme of racial prejudice or The Lovely Bones but without the violence and supernatural ghosties I feel I can pretty safely say that if you loved hated those books you will love hate Van Apfel Girls too For me it was good Readable, enjoyable, but not particularly memorable. This book is so rich and lush in atmosphere I could feel the heat wave of this Australian summer as the hot sun kissed my skin I could hear the birds chirping and the insects buzzing and I almost felt as if I was walking hand in hand with Tikka as she told me the story about the Van Apfel girlsWe 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 withHannah, Cordie, and Ruth Van Apfel live under the thumb of their strict, and often cruel, religious father so Hannah and Cordie make a plan to runaway during the schools Showstopper concert The plan doesn t go accordingly yet the girls manage to disappear leaving their best friends and neighbors, sisters, Tikka and Laura, wondering what has become of them even all these years laterWe thought we d seen the worst when those girls disappeared, but seeing, and not seeing, is a funny old thing Even now, I don t know which is crueler in the endThis book is being marketed as a mystery thriller and I think that is a huge disservice to this wonderful coming of age novel Yes, there is the mystery of the Van Apfel girls disappearance but it remains unsolved so mystery lovers looking for resolutions may be disappointed and so with that being said there isn t really anything thrilling happening either Where this book succeeds is in character development and drawing a sense of place These characters came alive to me and were portrayed so realistically The conversation among the girls and their behaviors were so on point that it brought me back to my own early teen years I loved spending time with Tikka and this book If you enjoy coming of age tales then this is one not to be missed 4 Sultry Stars Thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss, and Algonquin Books for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. Then she said the words I d been waiting to hear Don t you know The Van Apfel girls are gone Felicity McLean may have just released her first debut novel, but she is no stranger to the written word She has carved out a career as a respected ghost writer, a children s book author and a journalist This previous experience has put McLean in good standing The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is assured, refined and incredibly intriguing It had me hook, line and sinker At the very heart of The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is Tikka Molloy and the fateful summer of 1992 At just eleven years old, Tikka was impacted by an incident that will haunt her for years to come Day after day Tikka and her sister Laura socialise with their neighbours, the Van Apfel sisters Older sister Hannah, ethereal Cordelia and younger sister Ruth become entrenched in the lives and memories of Tikka When they mysteriously disappear after a concert at their local school, a search of the local bushland area reveals nothing Some twenty years after the disappearance of the Van Apfel sisters, Tikka comes home, in an attempt to understand the events of the fateful summer that has forever become etched on her mind.The striking cover of The Van Apfel Girls are Gone first caught my eye The innocent young blonde girl has a real The Virgin Suicides vibe In fact, I wasn t at all surprised to learn that this novel has been likened to the Jeffrey Eugenides modern classic Felicity McLean s debut novel has also been compared to a present day Picnic at Hanging Rock It does have that mysterious, haunting, speculative feel that Joan Lindsay s classic exudes With such highly regarded books linked to this novel, The Van Apfel Girls are Gone has some big shoes to fill, but thankfully it delivered.The book is structured in a split timeline style of narration We meet Tikka Molloy, the principal narrator, in the opening stages of the novel after an eventful prologue Early on in the novel, questions are thrown in the air, accusations made and speculation is aimed at the young Van Apfel girls and their unusual father This level of suspense, intrigue and conjecture is carried over for the entire novel It is a hard act to maintain, but McLean nails it.McLean s characterisation is steadfast I couldn t fault it Each Van Apfel girl is illuminated by McLean s precise prose and I was able to build a strong picture in my mind of these young sisters Likewise, their father, the fervent Mr Van Apfel was captured well by McLean As the book is told primarily through the eyes of an impassioned eleven year old, there are some doubts surrounding the character portraits of these protagonists, particularly the adults The whole tone of the book is ambiguous, full of grey areas, doubts, misunderstandings and gaps I think it works well to draw out the suspense and mystery side of the novel.Another element of the book that I really connected with was the setting Set in 1992, Tikka is exactly the same age as I was in this year It worked to strengthen my connection and understanding of the events on the book McLean successfully takes the reader back to a time of innocence, where we were much connected to our local neighbourhood and community McLean captures the naivety and carefree nature of Tikka, who behaved in almost exactly the same way as I would have done in this era It is suburban NSW in 1992, but it could just as easily have been my own suburb in Perth I was fondly reminded of pop culture and common aspects of this era, from paddle pops, to redskins, sprinklers and endless hours spent in backyard swimming pools.I felt that the book was about Tikka s journey to recover from a life changing incident that occurred in childhood that directly shaped her consciousness as an adult She experiences a form of PTSD Tikka has a strong sense of guilt and she has visions that haunt her Tikka also has an almost obsessive need to reconnect with the missing Cordelia In some respects I feel that The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is a good study of post traumatic stress disorder and bystander s guilt.Tikka s experience in the novel could also be considered a coming of age style piece It is easy to draw a line between this novel and a number of great Australian coming of age novels such as Looking for Alibrandi and Jasper Jones There is also a distinct scent of Australian gothic following this novel, which is why The Van Apfel Girls are Gone has been compared to Picnic at Hanging Rock The cryptic and paradoxical turn of events for The Van Apfel Girls are Gone definitely puts this book in the same vein as Picnic at Hanging Rock I would have appreciated a final answer to not only the disappearance of The Van Apfel Girls are Gone, but what exactly happened to Cordelia, the truth behind their possible abuse by their father and the links to the teacher McLean does want the reader to draw their own conclusions.With themes of religious devotion, friendship, maturity, trust, loyalty, suppression, secrecy, remorse and regret following The Van Apfel Girls are Gone, this one will shock you and stun you A pointed and slick first novel, the trapping style of storytelling will pull you in from the opening moments, to the very close of this captivating debut I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is book 46 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge Tikka returns to Australia, from her new life in Balti, as her sister, Laura, has cancer Returning home triggers all sorts of memories and, for Tikka, it throws her back twenty years, to when she was eleven and Laura was fourteen Their neighbours were the Van Apfel girls Hannah, who was Laura s confidante, thirteen year old Cordelia, who Tikka looked up to, and six year old Ruth.The summer was unbearably hot and the televisions were full of the story of Lindy Chamberlain, released, after being charged with the murder of her baby the infamous dingo story, which many of us remember from the time Tikka and Laura spend most of the summer with the Van Apfel girls but, one night, after a talent show, the girls vanish To be honest, there is much about this novel which you feel you have read before There is Mr Van Apfel, wielding religion as a means of control, the edgy, out of control feel of him, whenever he appears on the page Then there is the teacher, whose appearances seem a little inappropriate and, at the centre of the story, Cordelia, who seems to create strong feelings in those around her.Although this is not the most original novel, it is very well written It had a good sense of place and time and Tikka is an excellent narrator her childhood self allowing the reader to half glimpse things that she may not quite have understood A thoughtful exploration of a childhood mystery which would make for an excellent reading group choice, as there is lots to discuss I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review. 3.5 Stars The Van Apfel girls grew up with an extremely strict religious father.Tikka Molloy can t forget the summer of 1992 It was the summer that the Van Apfel sisters disappeared, all three of them The story is set in Australia, in an eerie river valley suburb with an awful unexplained smell The night of the Showstopper concert by the river was the night that the Van Apfel girls disappeared They vanished without a trace This was a very sad story that kept me intrigued and kept me turning the pages This is a slow burn mystery I did love the atmosphere It did have some surprises, dark secrets, and It was a little disturbing I wouldn t call this one a thriller I am of a thriller fan than a mystery fan The setting takes place in Australia I did have some questions at the end that were unanswered.I loved the descriptive writing style and I did connect with the characters My heart went out to the sisters, Hannah, Cordelia and Ruth, and I really felt sorry for Tikka This story is part mystery and a coming of age genre and would recommend this one to those that enjoy this genre I want to thank Algonquin Books for the arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. My initial impression of this book was quirky Tikka returns home from Balti to the suburbs outside Sidney, Australia The trip brings on an onslaught of memories from the year she s 11, the year her neighborhood friends, three sisters, disappear And what s apparent and obvious to an adult is not to an eleven year old So her impressions are just a tad off, leading to a slightly offbeat telling And the secondary characters are not your average folks either There s Mr Apfel, a religious fanatic who leads the girls in Bible study and prayers and punishes those that don t get the message correctly There s the teacher whose actions just don t seem appropriate McLean does a wonderful job of getting the kids just right the weird discussions, the picking on siblings, the not quite understanding how things work But as the book goes on, it gets and poignant My heart just ached for those girls All of them Even as adults, when Laura and Tikka still wonder if they did the right thing I had no idea how this would play out It s a wonderfully ambiguous story Don t go into this story expecting answers or you ll be disappointed My thanks to Algonquin Books for an advance copy of this book.