Nic Farrell has been running away from home for ten years. First to college, then grad school. Now, she has a faraway fiance and a studio and a life that finally separates her from the darkness in her hometown. Then her aged father sends her a letter: I saw that girl. When she was 18, Nic’s best friend Corinne disappeared without a trace and her small backwoods town changed forever. And yet, it’s the same, just older. The day after Nic returns to help get her family’s affairs in order so that her father can remain in a care home, another girl goes missing. Whether or not it’s related to Corinne’s disappearance, the haunted town begins the cycle of fear and gossip anew.
The narrative is critically complex, told in reverse. After a brief introduction, the story begins two weeks after the second girl’s disappearance and runs backwards through the day she disappears, followed by a prologue. There are also lines running through the narrative recounting the parallels from the day leading up to Corinne’s disappearance. Much of the information you learn early in the novel does not become significant until you obtain details that happen earlier in the timeline, later in the narrative.
The plot was well-executed, but required some thoughtful reflection to sort out the events. It’s a visceral and cerebral thing. I read the entire book in one sitting, which was advantageous. This book is really carried by it’s crisp, vivid prose. The sentence structure supports the narrative, becoming more frantic as the reader approaches the finale. The characters are relatable, even as they make awful, self-destructive choices. Still, they collectively refuse to sacrifice the people they love, and choose to trust whatever the cost. It’s endearing, unnerving, and exhilarating.
I did have a minor side note: It’s not a big deal, but the title is All The Missing Girls. There’s only two missing girls. It bothered me oddly.