All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Lost Girls by Jennifer Spence

on February 8, 2019

The Lost Girls
Jennifer Spence
Simon & Schuster AUS
2019, 338
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

A haunting tale of love and loss that will make you think twice …

What would you do if you had the chance to change a pivotal moment from your past?

How far would you go to save someone you loved?

These are just two of the fateful choices a woman must face in this highly original and hauntingly evocative detective story of love and loss.

At the core of the enigmatic Stella’s story, past and present, is a mystery she is compelled to solve, a beautiful young woman who went missing fifty years ago – and a tragedy much closer to home she must try to prevent.

As Stella unravels the dark secrets of her family’s past and her own, it becomes clear that everyone remembers the past differently and the small choices we make every day can change our future irrevocably.

This book was something that had my attention from the first page. I honestly ended up so much more involved in the story than I ever expected to be going into it.

Stella is returning home when she finds that she cannot open the door to her apartment block. In fact, it doesn’t even look the same anymore. When she walks around the corner to her old house, she’s confronted by herself – from 20 years ago. Stella immediately sees an opportunity to right the greatest tragedy of her life. She passes herself off as an aunt to herself from 20 years ago and infiltrates her old house, determined that her small actions change the course of history.

What a fascinating premise for a novel and Jennifer Spence executes this so well. Stella gets on a bus to go home and finds herself back in 1997. Opal cards for public transport don’t exist. Her mobile phone has no service – and no charger cord in this ‘now’ either. Most importantly of all, she can observe her own family from the point of view as an outsider. But of an outsider who is terribly invested in the future, because she is the future.

It begs the question – what would we change, if we could? If we could go back in time to some arbitrary point in our lives. Maybe it’s a point in time where the most innocent of things triggers a terrible event. Maybe it’s a decision, a crossroads, where later on, you know you picked the wrong choice. What would you change about your life, if you could? And if you were able to go back and alter that path, in small subtle ways…..what would you set in motion?

Because the thing is, when you go back in time….you can’t just ‘fix’ things and everything will all be fine. All actions have consequences, which is something that Stella discovers the longer she stays in the ‘before’ time. It creeps up on her slowly, so slowly and the way in which this is written is so good. Stella has excellent motivation for wanting to be able to change things and I understand that. And when Stella goes in, she goes in knowing that she might alter the outcomes in some ways but create different issues so she tries to be subtle.

Stella is able to interact with her family from 20 years ago by pretending to her 1997 self that she’s an aunt, a woman who vanished as a teenager years ago. The mystery of what happened to Linda has definitely been something that hung over the family, particularly Stella’s mother, who was in her teens when Linda was born and played a significant hand in raising her. This gives Stella a way of being involved quite intimately with the family without having to ingratiate herself, as Stella-in-1997 is more than willing to accept that her aunt who hasn’t been heard of in decades has just randomly turned up on her doorstep. She’s given a different perspective on not only her marriage but also the lives of her children and the relationships she had with them at the time.

It also gives her the opportunity to explore Linda’s disappearance, given the reactions of certain people when she ‘shows up’ again. It’s always been something that people have never been able to answer and caused the family and others a large amount of pain. Stella’s time warp becomes the key to finding out what happened to Linda and why. I really enjoyed the struggle of Stella to ‘be’ Linda, especially around her family. She has to sort of keep her distance from her own children even as she desperately wants to help them (ie interfere). She also gets the chance to interact with her mother (who is deceased in the 2017 timeline) and even though her mother knows she isn’t really Linda, she seems drawn to Stella anyway and is willing to give her a chance. I really liked the way that Stella proved that she was really from the future – she does it twice and her second list encapsulates all the big moments that the average Australian is likely to remember from 1997-2017.

I don’t read a lot of time travel books but I always really enjoy them. It’s something that I think intrigues people because of the chance it gives them to either experience a different timeframe/lifestyle or to change something that they think was a mistake or could better their lives in some way. This was really intriguing and I enjoyed Stella’s journey and her attempts to change a path of a loved one. I’ll definitely be looking out for Jennifer Spence’s future books.


Book #23 of 2019

The Lost Girls is the 6th book read for The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019

2 responses to “Review: The Lost Girls by Jennifer Spence

  1. It does sound like a really interesting book. I can imagine myself going back in time to squeak ‘oh no dear, not him! And not him either!’ Actually, to see oneself from the outside, whether or not one had the ability to change anything in that moment, would be a life-changing experience in ltself.

  2. […] The Lost Girls by Jennifer Spence. My review. […]

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