The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is a really atmospheric book, set during a blazing summer in 80s Australia. You can just feel the heat and sweat dripping off the pages, and smell the stench of the valley. While these descriptions evoke such a strong sense of place and make this quite a literary feeling novel, it is also a mystery novel and a real page turner at its core.
Seen through the eyes of a young girl Tikka, we learn about the events of one summer when three girls go missing from her neighbourhood. As is often the case with a child narrator, things are recounted hazily and in a scrambled order. This definitely adds to the mystery, as we hear about the friendship between the girls, their days hanging out together in the oppressive Australian heat, and the intense religious practices of Van Apfel family.
The novel also flits back and forth with present day Australia, when Tikka goes home to visit her family from the US where she now lives. Although this really drums home how much the past haunts the present, I didn’t love this about the book as it sometimes slowed the pace a bit to much for me. While I am not sure that this jumping around really adds anything to the mystery side of things (I don’t think you really learn anything new or interesting about the happenings of that summer), perhaps it adds to the more literary aspects of the novel.
Sophie @Sophie_Jo_Books 📚 🐾