The Gaps

Leanne Hall

The Gaps
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The Gaps

Leanne Hall

What does it mean to be the one left behind?

When sixteen-year-old Yin Mitchell is abducted, the news reverberates through the whole Year Ten class at Balmoral Ladies College. As the hours tick by, the girls know the chance of Yin being found alive is becoming smaller and smaller.

Police suspect the abduction is the work of a serial offender, with none in the community safe from suspicion. Everyone is affected by Yin’s disappearance-even scholarship student Chloe, who usually stays out of Balmoral drama, is drawn into the maelstrom. And when she begins to form an uneasy alliance with the queen of Year Ten, Natalia, things get even more complicated.

Looking over their shoulders at every turn, Chloe and Natalia must come together to cope with their fear and grief as best they can. A tribute to friendship in all its guises, The Gaps is a moving examination of vulnerability and strength, safety and danger, and the particular uncertainty of being a young woman in the world.

Review

The Gaps is a powerful, searing psychological novel that explores teenage fear, anger and vulnerability. When a 16-year-old girl, Yin Mitchell from the Year 10 class at Balmoral Ladies College, is abducted from her home during the night, it is splashed all over the news and the whole community becomes consumed.

Scholarship student Chloe didn’t really know Yin, but they were in some of the same classes and she can’t help but be caught up in the barely suppressed panic within the community. Queen bee Natalia struts about the school as if nothing has happened, but secretly she is traumatised by Yin’s disappearance and can’t stop reminiscing about their close childhood friendship. These two young women find themselves forming an unlikely truce, which develops into friendship, as they explore their grief through a photographic art project.

This isn’t the first time a girl from Balmoral has been abducted. The last girl was returned home safely, but as time passes and the police have no leads, the chances of Yin being found alive become increasingly slim. As the moral panic and fear in the town escalates, Chloe and Natalia give us an insight into how it feels to be a young woman in a world that preys upon young women. Their characters are beautifully represented and the development of Natalia from a fairly unlikeable character to one whom you feel great empathy for is particularly powerful.

The Gaps is a strongly feminist novel filled with righteous anger about the violence enacted upon young women. It’s an utterly compelling page turner that also depicts racism, sexism and privilege in nuanced ways. This brilliant stand-out novel demands to be read, talked about and admired by readers ages 13+.


Angela Crocombe is the manager of Readings Kids.

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