Cover Image: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

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The VanApfel Girls disappeared in 1992. All 3 of them. Hannah, Ruth and Cordelia. Gone. No Trace. Never found. Tikka remembers when the girls disappeared. The mystery pulled the small Australian community together....but over time dark secrets are revealed. 

This story develops slowly. It's richly atmospheric and subtle....sad, disturbing and mesmerizing. I couldn't put the book down once I got into the story. At first, I was a bit confused....but as I read more, I found myself totally sucked in by the tale. If you start reading and aren't sure if you like it or not....keep reading. It sneaks up on you! One second I was like...what?....but after another chapter, I was completely hooked. Let it build.....

That is all I'm going to say about the spoilers from me. Just be aware this isn't an in your face, blood dripping, pulse pounding's a slow build, suspenseful mystery...a look into the past. The narrator was 11 when the girls disappeared, but she's looking back at the events in 1992 as an adult returning to the area. It makes for an awesome read!

This is the first book by Felicity McLean that I've read. This story is well-written and I'm looking forward to reading more by this author! 

**I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book from Algonquin Books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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I'm really torn on this book. I loved the atmosphere McLean created in this small Australian town, where everyone knows everyone's business but pretends they don't. Truly perfect for those who like Picnic at Hanging Rock. The Virgin Suicides, and Top of the Lake for sure (or any dreamy scenario where things are boiling just under the surface).

McLean's atmosphere is truly perfect - you can really feel the oppressive heat that Tikka and the girls feel that long confusing summer, as well as their horror and reluctance and fear when they talk about Mr. Van Apfel. For such a tragedy that nonetheless happened years ago, it makes perfect sense that different characters would have different wrong memories of the event, but no one would have a clear easy answer to what happened.

But what really disgusted me is how cowardly everyone was. I can understand Tikka and Lauren keeping silent when Mr. Van Apfel slaps Ruth - it shocks them and doesn't seem too severe. But when it comes out that nearly everybody knew what was happening to these girls, adults and children, and Laura knew that Cordie was pregnant... well, that's when I couldn't suspend my disbelief anymore. When it gets that bad, that obvious, you need to say something. The whole town let those girls down, and it was all avoidable. I can stomach a few people staying silent out of respect of politeness, but it truly feels like they're all responsible here. Maybe that's the point.
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More than I expected.  This is a very unique coming of age type mystery that was quite enjoyable.   Perfect for summer, as I read it much faster than I had anticipated.  I didn't think I was going to like this as much as I did, though my only downfall was the absence of feeling any type of complete resolution.  Otherwise I would recommend it.
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Thank you to Algonquin and Netgalley for the digital galley of The Van Apfel Girls are Gone in exchange for an honest review.

Summer always makes me feel young again. I remember long summer days spent swimming with my cousins in flip flopped feet and bathing suits worn all day. The Van Apfel Girls are Gone took me back so vividly that I could almost feel being a kid again in the summer. 

This book is beautifully written. It is witty and funny - and haunting. And it all works so perfectly. 

I really enjoyed the story being told from Tikka's young point of view.  It gives the story the innocence and raw truth that it needs. 

It's so vividly told, the violence so beautifully handled, that I found myself lost when I looked up from reading. I was there. In the story. 

One of my top reads this year. By far.
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3.5 stars

Tikka Molloy returns home to her rural Australia home from Baltimore when her sister is diagnosed with a severe medical problem. The town is still hot but the river valley doesn't seem to have the same bad smell as when she was a child. The author does a wonderful job painting a picture of of the childhood neighborhood.

Of course, talk and thought turns to the three Van Apfel girls who disappeared when they were young teens. The youngest sister, Ruth age 7, was found dead 9 days after they ran away but the two oldest were never found or heard from again. Tikka has never stopped looking for Cordelia, her best friend, in everyone she sees. The girls were not only neighbors but best friends.

Tikka and her sister, Lara, have always second guessed themselves because they always knew the sisters were planning on running. In fact, they had agreed to help them. They wondered if they could have made a difference. The Van Apfels were raised by strict religious parents and a father who abused them.

The story wends through the thoughts and worries of all who knew them if they could have made a difference. It's quite a roller coaster.
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Years after the Van Apfel daughters go missing, their neighbor and friend Tikka Malloy is still haunted by their disappearance. The story skips about in time as she still tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together. 

Although this story didn't have a whole lot of plot and the time changes were sometimes confusing, the writer did such a great job of bringing the characters of the children to life -- Tikka especially seemed so real -- that I quite enjoyed reading this.
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For fans of The Virgin Suicides. This book was so lyrical and dreamy, a perfect summer read. Most of the book takes place when our protagonist Tikka is eleven, and one day the girls next door go missing. On.y one of them is found. I loved the lyrical and dreamlike quality of the story, and found Tikka an interesting narrator. I’ll definitely recommend this to patrons who are looking for that quality.
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The fiction debut of Australian journalist Felicity McLean, The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone tells the story of the disappearance of the three Van Apfel girls - Hannah, Cordelia, and Ruth, through the eyes of their friend, Tikka Molloy. Tikka was eleven in the summer of 1992 when the girls disappeared from a school variety show. Now, many years later, she has returned home to visit her sister Laura, about to undergo cancer treatment. The unsolved mystery of the girls' disappearance still haunts her town, and particularly Tikka and Laura.

While Tikka is back in town, she reexamines her memories of the summer that the girls disappeared with Laura, her parents, and other neighbors, most notably a nosy former Tupperware saleslady. She finds that they all have slightly different interpretations and memories of what went on that summer. And the essential mystery remains unsolved: did the girls run away to escape their strict, evangelical father? Did a creepy teacher spirit them away? Did their father? Or could something else have happened to them?

McLean, likely pulling some elements from her own childhood in a bush suburb of Sydney, effortlessly evokes the feeling of a long, hot Australian summer, the feeling of being an eleven year old girl - not a teenager, but no longer a small child with only childish problems, and the frustrating, open-ended nature of an unsolved mystery.

Overall: Four Sherlocks. The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is beautifully written combination of coming-of-age story and mystery, and is perfectly suited to reading on a beach during your own long, hot summer. (Fair warning with spoiler alert: If you really need neatly tied up endings, this may not be the book for you.)

I received an advance copy through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbalanced review of this book.
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The Van Apfel Girls are gone is an intriguing story about the girls that disappeared as well as the girls left behind. Told from the adult perspective of two sisters that grew up with the girls that disappeared. The story is told in bits and pieces and unfolds gradually. It kept me interested until the end!

**I received an ARC from NetGalley for a fair and unbiased review of this book.
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This book was a little old-school, but was still interesting and I enjoyed reading it! I look forward to reading more from this author!
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Three sisters disappear on the night of a school concert! Malloy was only 11 when it all occurred in the Summer of '92! The town has truly never recovered!
Tikki and Laura(friends/playmates) now haunted by memories upon Tikka's return to Sydney from Boston with more flooded mysteries to address. 
Meanwhile Mr. Van Apfel is speaking religion to the max while hiding his own secrets, a teacher that is edgy enough to be inappropriate, and Cordelia who has an aura and sense of trouble around her with very strong emotions appealing to readers.
This is not a cut and dry story that has no twists. This is a thriller that has many unanswered questions, intrigue, mystery, suspense.
Narrators are purposely planted with a childlike feel originating and moving to more adult action.
Tikka with her PTSD and bystander guilt in processing Cordelia and the inappropriate actions with the father and teacher.
Perhaps some things are not meant to have an answer...
Thank you to Felicity, the publisher, NetGalley, Amazon Kindle for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.
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Very much enjoyed this coming of age/missing person story set in Australia. The family saga was believable and the characters were, too. Will purchase this for my library.
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When TIkka was 11, her neighbors and friends disappeared from their small Australian town. It was summer and the girls youngest sister, Ruth, turned up dead not long after they disappeared but Hannah and Cordelia were never found.

Tikka has spent the rest of her life looking for the sisters, often thinking she's spotted Cordie in the distance and chasing down the woman only to realize it's not her. When she returns to Australia to visit her sick sister, she tries to make sense of what happened back in 1992--did the girls get kidnapped or did they run away? Were they trying to escape abusive parents or what exactly happened? Were she and her family responsible for their disappearance because they didn't tell the details they knew at the time?
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A beautifully written book for fans of The Virgin Suicides. It is mysterious, seductive, and enthralling. It's rare to read an entertaining, lyrical mystery novel, and with the publication of Tim Johnston and Felicity McLean, Algonquin books is making a name for themselves as a faithful and unique publisher of literary mystery. Highly ranked.
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This book definitely has Virgin Suicide vibes. A group of blonde sisters, with overly strict religious parents, seek an escape from their life. While some of the ideas feel borrowed, I loved the story. It felt like a snapshot of a period of time. While it leave many questions unanswered, it felt like the story was more about the narrators journey than the actual mystery. This will be a fun beach read this summer!
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It took me a few chapters to really get into this one but once I did, I was hooked! I loved Tikka’s voice and the themes of friendship and sisterhood. Great character development and I was a fan of how everything wasn’t tied up with a bow at the end.
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This was a beautifully written, but strange book. 

I have never read anything by Felicity McLean before, and I am in awe of some of her prose and her ability to write the way a hot summer's day feels.

The book centers on Australian native Tikka who returns home to be with her parents and sick sister and begins to remember a summer in the early 1990s that has haunted her forever: the summer the three Van Apfel girls disappeared from their religious parents' home down the street. Near Tikka's age, the girls were her best friends, and the disappearance of the middle one, Cordelia, haunts her continually. 

I loved the book, but as a fair warning, as a reader you are asked for many conclusions and the author leaves several ideas open to interpretation. If you enjoy character driven books more than plot driven, this is a book for you. That said, there are several great plot twists and reveals.

I would be delighted to read another book from this author, and I thank NetGalley,com, the author and publisher for my advanced reader copy.
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Tikka Molloy returns home to the suburban Australian town she grew up in and confronts the central mystery of her life - the disappearance of Cordelia, Hannah, and Ruth Van Apfel. The story toggles between Tikka in the present day and Tikka at age 11 during the summer the girls went missing. The atmospherics are outstanding: the enervating heat; the small town; the weight of family secrets; the fervor of religious zealots all of which combine to build story tension. Tikka is not always a reliable narrator and there are many things raised and never resolved which gives the reader a lot to think about; I think this would be a great book group choice.
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This book took me until I was about 30% into it to become interested but I’m glad I stuck with it because I enjoyed the rest. I love books from young girls’s points of view and Tikka was an extraordinary voice. I wish more of the mysteries had been solved but all in all it was a good read.
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This is great novel that follows the effects of secrets in a small town with beautiful insight into the mind of teenage girls as they walk the line between childhood and adulthood.
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