The Gaps by Leanne Hall

‘Where do they go, those girls that accidentally fall through a gap in the universe? What’s on the other side?

When news breaks of sixteen-year-old Yin Mitchell’s abduction, several of the Year 10 girls at Balmoral Ladies College have their own theories about who and why. Meet Chloe and Natalia, two quite different girls reflecting different aspects of the school community. Chloe is new to the school, a scholarship student, torn between the opportunities Balmoral offers and her friends at her previous school, Morrison High. Natalia belongs in the private school community: she is wealthy and seemingly self-assured.

Previously a girl from the school community had been abducted, but she had been returned within twenty-four hours. As time passes, everyone fears that Yin will not be seen alive. And the theories about who has taken Yin and why become more prevalent. Conspiracy theories develop, and various males are suspected.

In the meantime, and amid the tension, Year 10 life continues. School work needs to be done; Chloe works hard but needs inspiration for her art project. Chloe’s art project, and Natalia’s involvement, is a story of its own.

Ms Hall takes the reader into a world of emotion and uncertainty, where alliances and friendships can be brittle. Her main characters are well developed, their concerns understandable, their fears palpable. And while Yin’s abduction is at the heart of the story, it is the impact of the abduction on the others that carries the story forward. There are plenty of issues to consider: how would a school community handle such an event; what precautions should parents and students realistically take and how can any pretence of normality be maintained?

Ms Hall has written a thought-provoking novel which, I think, will appeal to more than its intended YA audience.

Highly recommended.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

#AWW2021

#AussieAuthor2021

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