The Gaps by Leanne Hall
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+.