Tuesday, March 23

Island of Lost Girls – Jennifer McMahon

Rhonda Farr was hypnotised by the scene before her, or at least that’s what she told herself later. How else could she explain watching a six-foot rabbit (or at least, a man in a rabbit costume) hop up to Trudy Florruci’s car, approach Trudy’s daughter, escort Ernie into a gold VW bug and drive away?
Distraught at her inaction, Rhonda involves herself in the subsequent investigation, and the more she sees the more strongly she’s reminded of the disappearance of another young girl from the small town of Pike’s Crossing, her childhood best friend Lizzy, and the more she thinks about that summer, viewing events through the filter of youth, and complicated by her still unrequited feelings for Lizzy’s brother Peter.
While the hunt for Ernie shapes and propels the plot, it is many ways a secondary storyline, as McMahon explores Rhonda’s personality, in many ways stunted, her life unexamined and on hold without her realising. This unique and interesting novel combines mystery with a more literary pastiche of past and present, as Rhonda uncovers truths about herself, about those closest to her, and as she begins to fear that there’s nobody she can truly trust.
The writing is certainly accessible, but though not an overtly heavy or ponderous book, Island of Lost Girls is far from light reading. I really liked McMahon’s voice and her interweaving of past and present. She was able to reveal truths to the adult eyes of readers that could be easily unseen by a child and by inattentive adults, and the emergence of facts if oblique and covert, making the reading experience rewarding. I anticipate tracking down her other works - Alex

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