Review Blog

Feb 14 2019

The lost girls by Jennifer Spence

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Simon and Schuster 2019. ISBN 9781925791372.
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Themes: Loss. Time travel. Families. Choices. When Stella makes her way home to the Sydney waterside suburb she and husband Richard have lived in for forty years, it soon becomes apparent that all is not as it should be. She finds herself transported back in time twenty years to 1997 when the apartment she now lives in is still undeveloped and her daughter who had died at the age of 16 is still alive. Not knowing what else to do she presents herself at the house they used to live in and is taken in as the long lost Aunt Linda who disappeared fifty years ago, also at age 16. Stella convinces herself that the time shift happened so she could change the course of her daughter's life and avert the tragedy of her overdose but as she tries to exert her influence on the family she finds it is not possible to direct that influence without affecting others. Her own mother knows immediately that Stella is not Linda, her sister, and Stella gets involved with finding out what really happened to Linda while forging new bonds with her mother. As time in 1997 passes for Stella she begins to doubt her own shifting memories and starts to write them down in a notebook she finds in a drawer, referencing Doris Lessing's The golden notebook. Towards the end Stella's grip seems to be slipping and her behaviour more extreme. For older readers there is a gentle nostalgia to indulge in while reflecting on the course of life and the yearning for lost loved ones. Anyone who can remember the events of 1997 onwards will enjoy the evocation of that time and the tantalising idea of going back to change our own history.
Sue Speck

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