Zoe Bloom went away to camp but sneaked away one night. She never returned. Her body was discovered and now her friends, family and others in the local community assess how they really felt about the beautiful but manipulative teenager.
We all make connections with people and present a certain image of ourelves to others and on social media. The Girl Who Never Came Home cleverly uses this concept to explore the complex relationships within families, friendship groups and online.
Zoe is a typical teenager. We see her through the perspectives of other characters including her mother Lydia and sister Jessie as well as her best friend Shayna and teacher Ms Fischer. These characters struggle to reconcile their grief and love with the reality of their experiences with Zoe.
The main characters have been hiding personal secrets or information about Zoe’s final hours. This leads to suspicious behaviour and maintains our interest as we want to discover which elements of the plot have relevance to Zoe’s death. There are short chapters from an unknown perspective that feel more malevolent and raise the anticipation.
I enjoyed the use of social media and our online presence in the plot. As a parent, this is something I am concerned about for my own children. I also felt particularly drawn to Lydia and Jessie’s viewpoints as their feelings are so well expressed even though it is not written in the first person (unlike Shayna and Ms Fischer’s chapters)
The Girl Who Never Came Home is an intriguing mystery with plenty of drama and emotion.
The Girl Who Never Came Home book description:
They find her just as the sun is beginning to rise in the early morning mist. They had begun at dawn, the group of searchers keen to get going. A missing child spurred everyone on. In the end, it was a flash of colour, a bright neon pink that caught her eye. They had been looking for pink.
Nothing tests your faith like being a mother. The first time your children walk to school alone, their first sleepover, when they finally fly the nest. As a parent, you have to believe that everything will be OK.
It’s why, when Lydia’s sixteen-year-old daughter Zoe goes on a school camping trip, she has no idea of the horrors that will unfold. It’s why, when Lydia gets a call saying that her daughter has disappeared, she refuses to give up.
As she searches the mountains, her voice hoarse from calling Zoe’s name, she imagines finding her. She envisions being flooded with relief as she throws her arms around her child, saying, ‘you gave us such a scare’. She pictures her precious girl safely tucked in bed that evening.
It’s why, when they find Zoe’s body, Lydia can barely believe it. It is unthinkable. Her little girl has gone.
Something terrible happened, she is sure of it. Something made Zoe get out of her sleeping bag in the middle of the night, walk out of the warmth and safety of the cabin, into the darkness of the mountains. Driven by the memory of her youngest child, Lydia needs to find out the truth. What kind of mother would she be if she didn’t?
A heartbreaking, redemptive and beautifully crafted novel which brings to life a mother’s worst nightmare, questioning how well we ever really know the people we love the most. Fans of Jodi Picoult, Kerry Fisher and Liane Moriarty will be blown away by this stirring, unforgettable tale.
Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because, as her professor pointed out, ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’
She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree. In between raising three children, working for her husband and renovating houses, she has published six novels. She lives in Sydney, Australia.