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Island of Lost Girls: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, April 22, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of McMahon's haunting second novel (after Promise Not to Tell), recent college grad Rhonda Farr witnesses a child abduction in front of a convenience store in Pike's Crossing, Vt. Ernestine Ernie Florucci willingly leaves her mother's car because her six-foot-tall abductor is wearing a rabbit suit. Rhonda remembers her best friend Lizzy's father entertaining her and Lizzy in a rabbit costume in 1993, and vanishing soon after. Three years later, Lizzy disappeared en route to high school. Guilt over her inability to stop Ernie's abduction spurs Rhonda to join the search for the girl. She recalls the summer that Lizzy's older brother, Peter, had them all perform Peter Pan, which was a great success, but there were dark secrets beneath the makeshift stage. McMahon expertly shifts between pivotal events in the past and present-day action, building tension to a resolution both poignant and shattering. (May)
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From Booklist

As in her assured debut novel, Promise Not to Tell (2007), McMahon offers a moving if bittersweet portrait of childhood. When a person dressed up in a rabbit costume abducts a little girl out of her car, the lone witness, Rhonda, is too stunned to act. As the small rural town mobilizes a search for the missing child, Rhonda, reeling with guilt, is reminded of another girl who went missing—her closest friend from childhood, Lizzy. Joyful memories of their youth spent putting on plays and exploring the woods alternate with darker moments: losing the love of her life, Lizzy’s brother, Peter, and the year an increasingly disheveled and moody Lizzy stopped talking to her or anyone else. Past and present merge as Rhonda closes in on the costumed abductor and also on the dark family secrets that tore their perfect childhood apart. McMahon spends a good deal of time setting the stage; however, once the pieces of the intricate plot are in place, readers will be hooked on both the mystery element and the coming-of-age aspects of this atmospheric novel. --Joanne Wilkinson
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (April 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061445886
  • ASIN: B0028N731G
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,141,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in 1968 and grew up in my grandmother's house in suburban Connecticut, where I was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. I wrote my first short story in third grade. I graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and I decided to take some time to think about whether I wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, I wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with my partner, Drea, while we built our own house. Over the years, I have been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness -- I quit my last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, I gave birth to our daughter, Zella. These days, we're living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings me immense pleasure.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was not aware that this book had come out and when I saw it at Borders I immediately scooped it up. After being thoroughly entranced with Ms. McMahon's previous effort "Promise Not to Tell", I knew I would love this book as well. She has such a knack for fluid story telling, extremely well fleshed out characters and an uncanny ability of being able to draw you in from word one. Her subject matter is disturbing but that's life as we know it. This is a little slip of a book, only 255 pages but it is jam packed with suspense, atmosphere and plot twists that are sometimes slowly revealed and sometimes thrown right in your face. Had I the time I would have devoured this book in one sitting. I will again be waiting eagerly for the next Jennifer McMahon. Do not miss this author.
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Format: Paperback
Rhonda Farr is 23 and on her way to a job interview. Rhonda is sitting in her car outside Pat's Mini Mart in Pike's Crossing, waiting to fill her car up with gas. Trudy Florucci pulls up and runs inside the Mini Mart, leaving the motor running and Ernie, her little girl in the car. A gold-colored VW pulls into Pat's Mini Mart, driven by a large white rabbit. Before Rhonda can get over her shock at seeing a rabbit driving the VW, Ernie has jumped out of her mother's car and rode off with the rabbit. Rhonda is guilt ridden because the child has disappeared, and she took no action whatsoever to try and stop the abduction.

Pat, the owner of Pat's Mini Mart, has set up a "Find Ernie Headquarters." Rhonda is one of the volunteers. The disappearance of Ernie has caused Rhonda to take a trip back to her childhood and memories of Peter, Lizzy and Tock, her childhood friends. The group built a stage and produced Peter Pan. Rhonda's family and the families of her friends gathered for social activities. Thinking of these times reminds Rhonda of many mysteries in the past. The disappearance of Peter's father, as well as that of his sister Lizzy, is a memory Rhonda dwells on.

Island of Lost Girls is a book full of suspense and heartbreak. It is also a peek into the wonderful imagination of children and their private little world. The ending is shocking, sad and happy, too. I would highly recommend this book.

Armchair Interviews agrees.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard great reviews for this book and was severely let down by the juvenile writing and story line. I felt like I may have enjoyed this book at a younger age, but this book was definitely too easy of a read for me. I felt the story line was immature and predictable, the ending was forced, and the characters were not developed. I would advise the writing of this book to be suitable for a young adult novel; however, the story line is violent and grim and would not advise anyone to pick this up. Definitely not worth the ten dollars on the Kindle.
3 Comments 28 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Island of Lost Girls is a well-written, light read and certainly has the "I'll just read another chapter" quality about it. But, while most mystery/suspense type novels rely on some coincidences, here they are just too unbelievable and contrived to be a credible story and ultimately this detracts from the book.

Rhonda lives in Vermont and is on her way to a job interview when she stops at the local garage to fill up her car, only to witness the bizarre sight of a person dressed in a full rabbit costume approach another car, knock on the window, and kidnap the young girl while her mother is inside buying lottery tickets. Rhonda is so shocked she is paralysed and after is filled with guilt that she did not do anything to intervene. As the village mobilises to search for the girl, Rhonda takes it on herself to volunteer in the search process being run by the owner of the garage, Pat, and her nephew Warren (yes, really, he's called Warren!).

But the bunny fixation does not end here as we discover that when she was a child, Rhonda's best friend also went missing and there is back story that at least begins with an Easter Bunny-led egg hunt in the days before her best friend (Lizzy), and her father, went missing. Holding the two stories together is Lizzy's brother, Peter (yes, as in Peter Rabbit, who coincidentally is how the missing girl in the main story refers to her abductor), who Rhonda has had a severe crush on since childhood even though he is now married. Could the stories be linked? Could Peter have abducted the little girl? What went on with her parents and could Peter really be more than her childhood friend? With all the name puns, it's a wonder Starsky and Hutch weren't called in.
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2 Comments 8 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
On the surface, this book is about an abduction and the search for a missing girl. The sole witness to the kidnapping is Rhonda, and as she tries to help find the kidnapper (who was dressed in a bunny suit at the time), she recalls a summer of her childhood a few years before her best friend also went missing. This summer was a turning point in her childhood much more than she knew at the time.

Both stories, past and present, are tragic enough. But I think neither is really the point of the book. To me, the point of the book was how very little in Rhonda's life is as she thinks it is. She begins to learn this during that one summer, but the full import of what was going on around her doesn't become clear until the hunt for the child she saw kidnapped is almost over.

And it's not that Rhonda's purposely deceiving herself, either in the past or in the present. But there are definitely things going on around her that she's not aware, and secrets that are being kept from her. Told in the third-person, but entirely from Rhonda's perspective, McMahon reveals these secrets in a slow but satisfying way.
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