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Island of Lost Girls

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Overview

While parked at a gas station, Rhonda sees something so incongruously surreal that at first she hardly recognizes it as a crime in progress. She watches, unmoving, as someone dressed in a rabbit costume kidnaps a young girl. Devastated over having done nothing, Rhonda joins the investigation. But the closer she comes to identifying the abductor, the nearer she gets to the troubling truth about another missing child: her best friend, Lizzy, who vanished years before.

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Island of Lost Girls

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Overview

While parked at a gas station, Rhonda sees something so incongruously surreal that at first she hardly recognizes it as a crime in progress. She watches, unmoving, as someone dressed in a rabbit costume kidnaps a young girl. Devastated over having done nothing, Rhonda joins the investigation. But the closer she comes to identifying the abductor, the nearer she gets to the troubling truth about another missing child: her best friend, Lizzy, who vanished years before.

From the author of the acclaimed Promise Not to Tell comes a chilling and mesmerizing tale of shattered innocence, guilt, and ultimate redemption.

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Editorial Reviews

Keith Donohue
“Island of Lost Girls is an unsettling account of the secret lives of children, told in unexpected twists and turns, as if Alice had fallen down the wrong rabbit hole and lost her childhood. McMahon never flinches, but her readers will at every dark secret.”
People Magazine
"[McMahon’s] smart mystery-thriller grabs you by the throat and won’t let go....making this a page-turner you’ll neglect sleep for." (3 ½ Stars)
People
“[McMahon’s] smart mystery-thriller grabs you by the throat and won’t let go....making this a page-turner you’ll neglect sleep for.” (3 ½ Stars)
People
“[McMahon’s] smart mystery-thriller grabs you by the throat and won’t let go....making this a page-turner you’ll neglect sleep for.” (3 ½ Stars)
Booklist
“As in her assured debut novel, PROMISE NOT TO TELL, McMahon offers a moving if bittersweet portrait of childhood . . . readers will be hooked on both the mystery element and the coming-of-age aspects of this atmospheric novel.”
People
“[McMahon’s] smart mystery-thriller grabs you by the throat and won’t let go....making this a page-turner you’ll neglect sleep for.” (3 ½ Stars)
Booklist
“As in her assured debut novel, PROMISE NOT TO TELL, McMahon offers a moving if bittersweet portrait of childhood . . . readers will be hooked on both the mystery element and the coming-of-age aspects of this atmospheric novel.”
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)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Small-town copycat crimes yet again spur a hometown girl to recall more personal situations in McMahon's well-crafted-if formulaic-sophomore effort. As Rhonda Farr waits at a gas station in her rural Vermont town, she witnesses the unthinkable: Someone dressed in a rabbit suit snatches a small child from a car and drives away. Rhonda is guilt-ridden and joins the rescue efforts for Ernestine, but she is not alone-station owner Pat and her nephew Warren seem equally committed to the cause. For Rhonda, the crime hits close to home-the rabbit's getaway car belonged to the mother-in-law of her longtime unrequited love, Peter Shale. All signs point to him as a suspect, but it's hard for Rhonda to accept that he is guilty, especially because Peter has a daughter the same age as Ernestine. Rhonda and Warren become a team, linking up to scout for clues and eventually beginning a romantic relationship. But the hunt also forces her to confront a pivotal summer in her own childhood, when Peter's father vanished, and his sister, Lizzy, Rhonda's best friend, went crazy. Lizzy also disappeared a few years later, leaving everyone to assume that she was with her father, making both of them suspects now too-especially when Peter and a woman looking remarkably like Lizzy are spotted at a local hotel with a girl Ernestine's age. Rhonda's memories uncover a trove of intricate family secrets about the Farrs and the Shales, including illicit romances, questionable paternity of various children and even signs of abuse. But just when Rhonda thinks she has it all figured out, new suspects emerge, a body is discovered and the case grows more complicated. The flashbacks, dirty family secrets and sudden plot twistsharken back to McMahon's debut (Promise Not to Tell, 2007), but, commendably, she still manages some surprises. Agent: Daniel Lazar/Writers House
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061445880
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/22/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 153,194
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer McMahon is the author of Dismantled, the New York Times bestseller Island of Lost Girls, and the breakout debut novel Promise Not to Tell. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella.

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Read an Excerpt

Island of Lost Girls

Chapter One

June 5, 2006

Rhonda Farr had two Peters in her life: the Peter she loved but could not have, and now the white rabbit, which she, not unlike Alice in Wonderland, seemed destined to chase down the hole. But Alice's rabbit was not named Peter. The only Peter Rabbit Rhonda had known was the one in the storybook by Beatrix Potter, a common brown rabbit with a white fluffy tail, who just couldn't stay out of poor Mr. McGregor's garden.

On the other hand, Rhonda's Peter Rabbit was Ernestine Florucci's rabbit: all white and, as she would tell the police, about six feet tall.

"A rabbit?" the state troopers would ask, hands poised to scribble notes in black pads. "Six feet tall? Are you sure?"

Though the police were skeptical, Ernestine's mother, Trudy, believed Rhonda's story; she believed her but refused to forgive her.

The lives of Ernestine, Trudy, and Rhonda—maybe the lives of everyone in Pike's Crossing—had changed forever in about three minutes. The time it takes to soft-boil an egg.

It was well past Easter when Peter Rabbit appeared to Rhonda, swooping away little Ernestine. It was the fifth of June, and Rhonda had pulled into Pat's Mini Mart to fill her tank so she could make it to a job interview in Burlington that afternoon. She was running late, but she needed to stop, there was nothing in the tank but fumes. She also thought she might see Peter. Rhonda had been nearly out of gas all weekend, waiting until today to stop, because she knew Peter would be at the garage.

Visiting him before the interview, even just a quick Hey, how'stricks, Ronnie? would give her a little jump start. She avoided his house because then she'd have to make small talk with Tock, come up with some excuse for stopping by, and, most painful of all, Suzy would come out and circle around her, jumping up and down—a cherubic reminder of the futility of Rhonda's situation.

It was a perfect early-June day, the temperature hovering in the mid-seventies. Rhonda drove with her windows open, inhaling the scent of newly mown grass and just-opened lilacs in people's yards. The campgrounds around Nickel Lake had opened on Memorial Day and Rhonda could smell the smoke from the campfires. Brightly colored blow-up toys hung from hooks on the rafters in front of Pat's: sea monsters, inner tubes, a small yellow raft, and a grinning crocodile with handles and cup holders. Overpriced bundles of camp wood were stacked below. Two ice machines stood to the left of the front door and a sign in the window promised cold beer, camping supplies, and night crawlers inside. Summer was here. And there was Rhonda, overdressed in a pressed white shirt and khaki suit. She eyed the crocodile longingly.

The interview she was probably going to be late to wasn't even for a job she particularly wanted. It was in her field (she'd graduated two weeks before with a BS in biology) and would look good on her résumé: research assistant for a University of Vermont study of zebra mussels—invasive mollusks that were hell bent on taking over Lake Champlain, encrusting water pipes and shipwrecks on its floors, crowding out the natives.

Pat's Mini Mart was the only place in Pike's Crossing to buy gas. It was also close to Nickel Lake,sothey got a lot of business from campers and folks with summer cottages. Pat's was also rumored to be the best place in the area to buy lottery tickets. They'd had a jackpot winner two weeks before—two hundred fifty thousand dollars—and a five thousand dollar winner before that.

Rhonda would later learn that it was the lottery tickets Trudy Florucci stopped for that day. She carried her lucky numbers in the pocket of her acid-wash denim jacket along with enough money for four tickets and a pack of menthol cigarettes, the no-name brand that was cheaper than regular brands like Kool, which was what Trudy smoked when her husband was alive and she could afford such luxuries. Trudy would tell all of this to one of the state troopers, spilling out painful little details of her life to an utter stranger at the most awkward of moments—and it would make Rhonda cringe. As if Trudy had opened her mouth, pulled back her cheek, and shown the cop a raw and seeping canker sore.

Pat's husband, Jim, was the one who pumped the gas at the full-service station. Full service was a funny way of putting it, Rhonda thought, because Jim never washed the windshield and when asked to check the oil, he grumbled and banged around under the hood so ferociously you were sure never to ask him to do it again. That day, Jim, who was skeletally thin and alarmingly tall, sauntered out in his blue coveralls, looking especially bored. His dark hair was slicked back and he wore several days of stubble.

"Fill her up today?" he asked, just staring out over the roof of Rhonda's car. He swatted at a bug by his left ear.

Rhonda nodded up at him from the open window of her blue Honda.She smiled, but he did not seem to see. Jim unscrewed the gas cap, selected the grade—regular (he didn't bother asking)—and began to fill her tank.

"Peter around?" Rhonda asked, trying not to sound too hopeful as she peered into the garage.

"Took the day off," Jim said, and Rhonda felt her heart sink. Stupid, stupid, stupid, she told herself.

"All by myself here," Jim said, sounding a little bitter. He rubbed at his earlobe. The bug had gotten him after all—probably a blackfly, it had been a terrible year for blackflies.

Pat was out getting her hair done, Rhonda would learn later, which was why, when Trudy Florucci pulled up in the rusted-out Corsica, parking in front of the ice machines, Jim left the pump running to go . . .

Island of Lost Girls. Copyright ? by Jennifer McMahon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 922 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(300)

4 Star

(287)

3 Star

(188)

2 Star

(73)

1 Star

(74)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 924 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Finding the Lost Girls

    Island of Lost Girls is a very dramatic story. McMahon's writing style is phenomenal as she takes you on a journey through a traumatic time in Rhonda Farr's life as she searches for a missing girl in her small home town. Secrets, love, fear, heartbreak, and healing are woven into a tale that will make you think of the lost girl you know.

    96 out of 109 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the most interesting books I have read in a long time.

    This story was weirdly fascinating, I could not put it down. The two interwoven stories of the characters as children and adults really gave insight into how a person develops, and how things in your past will eat away at you until they are finally dealt with. I also read her first book and enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as this one.

    81 out of 106 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2012

    Why This Book Isn't Worth Your Time -- And Why It's Not Appropriate For Kids

    I found this book was a complete disappointment, and here is why:

    - The writing style is terrible. The author would often trail off for half a page or more on subjects unrelated to the story as if she lost her train of though. Aside from that, her writing style was not engaging and lacked the sense of emotion you expect from a book.

    There is a big difference between reading a novel and watching a movie: I feel like people pick up books to get lost in them. To blur the lines between fiction and reality, or to create an emotional bond with the characters. Reading Island of Lost Girls felt like watching a movie. It lacked emotion and I only stuck around to see the plot unfold and discover the villain.

    - I had high expectations for this book--they were not met. Maybe I prefer something a little more upbeat, and this was both depressing and weird. It took everything I had to finish the novel and it was excruciating.

    - I know there was some discussion as to whether this book is appropriate for middle school kids to read--absolutely not. For starters, it's not even a good example of literature. It has more adult content than I would be comfortable with a 12 year-old reading, and it had 50 + "f" words. Now, I'm a 24 year-old. Most people would not expect someone my age to be so conservative, but I stand by my opinion.

    71 out of 110 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Dramatic

    Enjoyed it- a lot and will read more from this talented writer. Give it a try.

    61 out of 70 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2008

    fantastic read!

    This was a really good book. Yes, it was dark and parts were very very sad -- but then so is life, right? I think that's why I liked this so much -- it felt so real and moving, like a good literary novel, but was still very twisty and suspenseful like a good mystery novel. I couldn't put the darn thing down till I found out who was in the rabbit suit, what had become of Lizzy & Ernie, not mention Daniel, and whether Peter was who he seemed... The ending packed a real wallop, and I've been haunted by it ever since. No neat, black-and-white answers -- again, just like life.

    52 out of 61 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Not appropriate for middle schoolers!

    A number of posts are asking about the proper age to read this book. I have read this book and do not feel it is appropriate subject matter for middle school aged readers. It deals with some very disturbing material. I do not want my child reading this book until they are much older.

    38 out of 62 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This Author has potential.. Not a bad little read!

    Although I have never heard of this author I decided to go ahead and buy this book as it sounded interesting and was only 2.99 so what could it hurt right? I did not have high hopes for this book, but was surprised to find that I did rather enjoy it.

    The Author you can clearly tell is "new", but has some great potential. The story kept you captivated, (I bought the book at 2 p.m. and finished it at 8 P.M.), but I think it a way it keeps you captivated in the wrong way. Instead of feeling excited, sad, or scared for the characters like you should in a good book I felt like "You have to keep reading because somehow all of this has to tie together, eventually they are going to tell you what the heck happened."

    When I finally did get to a point where it all started to come together I was surprised to find that my assumption about the who the rabbit was- was dead wrong! However, I was sad to found out the ending. It was weak.. I, for my personal taste, would of liked to hear more about Ernie as a person and Erine's home life along with Pat's life and her sister. I think this would of helped me be more into their characters! I think this book is less about the "lost girls" themselves and more about the main character and her shame over her life and her choices.

    All in all not a bad little book for 2.99 and I think Jennifer McMahon has some great potential.. I would recommend this if you are looking for a quick read on a rainy day.

    As far as age appropriateness I would say no younger than 16 as there are some "graphic" things that happen to the character Lizzy that I would not feel are appropriate for young readers.

    13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    Do not like language

    I really wish it didn't have perverse language

    11 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Anonymous

    I liked it however, a lot of swear words, i do not reccomend for younger children.

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    APPROPRIATE FOR ELEVEN YEAR OLDS

    By the time youre elevn you usually know about all that happens in this book. AWESOME BOOK Im twelve ad Id recomend it to my ten year old sister.

    8 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    Making an observation...

    Just pointing out most of the bad reviews for this book were written poorly, leading me to believe either the critiques were written by children, or by poorly educated individuals. Merely stating facts...

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2008

    A reviewer

    I read the back of this book and it sounded like something i would really enjoy. It was a good book, but i saw the ending coming from a mile away. Nothing to write home about

    6 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2012

    Read if you like depressing stories

    I really wanted to like this book based on other reviews and the overview, but I thought it was a horrible story. The main character was a sad individual that had an incredibly sad and messed up childhood. The author jumped between Rhonda's childhood and the present and tried leaving off every chapter with a "cliff hanger" and it got old fast and made the story seem disjointed. The entire story was sad and the book was profanity-laden. It was a depressing book with insane characters that I would only recommend to those that are trying to bring themselves down.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    I dont know

    Interesting i might buy it

    5 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2009

    great book

    I loved this book. I learned so much from this book. I have two young grandaughters and I would recommend this book to anyone with children or grandchildren.

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Wasnt impressed

    Not worth reading. I thought it was really boring! Im shocked this made BN top 100!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    GREAT STORY TELLING

    Another excellent find in the 5 $ and under section. the authors story telling was a fresh change of pace and the story line very riveting. hit the BUY NOW button!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2012

    Lovee<3

    Im 12 and i love this book...it is a very good book that i got hooked on. Yes it does have many characters come in at once but to tell the story it needs a lot of characters. I totally recommend

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Hmmmm........

    Not aproptiate for kids at all.make sure your over 17 before you buy it because the topic is too strong for any young teen or child

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Great read

    220 pgs. Couldnt put this down. Just when i thought id figured it out, there'd be a twist. Then another. Great character development. Just want I want in a novel.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 924 Customer Reviews

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