EXCERPT: They find her body after twenty-three hours of searching.
She is lying at the bottom of a small outcrop of grey-brown rock. The rock is covered in a slippery green moss and one of the searchers, a woman named Adelaide, almost loses her footing as she peers over the edge despite being a resident of the mountains and a keen hiker. She attributes her near slip to the tears clouding her view. It is a terrible thing to see. The girl lies with one leg slightly angled and her arms above her head, her eyes closed and her arms above her head, her eyes closed and her blonde hair tangled around her face, a sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks. Her phone is lying in one hand, the screen unbroken.
ABOUT ‘THE GIRL WHO NEVER CAME HOME’: 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?
MY THOUGHTS: I always look forward to a new Nicole Trope book, and ‘The Girl Who Never Came Home’ is no exception. Trope manages to combine an interesting and realistic storyline that will wrench your heartstrings, particularly if you are a parent, with wonderfully relatable characters.
Having a child go missing is every parent’s worst nightmare. Somehow, when you send your child off to school camp, you expect to get that child back. Trope explores what happens when that child doesn’t come back, when that child is found dead, and what happens when a death that initially looks accidental, becomes something else. She explores the complicated relationships between teenage girls, between them and their families, between them and the people they ‘meet’ on social media. She explores the disparity between the the actuality of these girls and the image that they present to the world, the competition between and pecking order in friendships.
The Girl Who Never Came Home is a delicious, sad, emotional, exciting read, one that will have you glued to the pages as the possible identity of Zoe’s killer becomes numerous as secrets are revealed and lies exposed.
The story is told from the viewpoints of Lydia, Zoe’s mother; Shayna, Zoe’s best friend; Bernadette, the teacher; and Jessie, Zoe’s sister. Detectives Gold and Holland are the lead investigators and the tragedy takes place just outside Leura in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia. I have been there and it is spectacularly beautiful, but it would also be extremely easy to get lost, especially in the middle of the night if you were alone. But it seems that Zoe wasn’t alone . . .
THE AUTHOR: 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 Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girl Who Never Came Home by Nicole Trope for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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