Review Blog

Aug 01 2008

Missing girl by Norma Fox Mazer

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2008. ISBN: 9781741752793
(Age 14+) A psychological thriller, Missing girl kept me reading, on the edge of my seat, waiting to see which girl would go missing and what would happen. The book opens with the words:
'If the man is lucky, in the morning on his way to work, he sees the girls. A flock of them, like birds.'
There are five Herbert girls: 17 year old Beauty can't wait to escape the poverty and the responsibility she has to shoulder; Autumn the youngest feels overlooked, Fancy has special needs; and then there is volatile Stevie and quiet Mim. When the girls' parents decide that they will lend Stevie to a relative to try and ease the financial pressures, Beauty is faced with carrying the bad news to the girls and then easing their worries.

Mazer's technique of having short chapters, each telling the story in a different voice, is very effective as the reader hears what is happening from different points of view. The voice of the middle aged watcher is particularly frightening and adds to the tension of the book as the girls go about their everyday business totally unaware of him. The characters of all the protagonists are finely drawn and each of the girls grows in strength through the trials that they face. It is a moving story about courage and family.

This story is not graphic, but the suspense is gripping. What is most memorable and haunting for me is how Mazer explores the aftermath of the situation.
Pat Pledger

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