ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS

Jennifer McMahon

 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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 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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  • Harper Paperbacks
  • Paperback
  • April 2008
  • 272 Pages
  • 9780061445880

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About Jennifer McMahon

 Jennifer McMahon is the author of Promise Not to Tell. She grew up in suburban Connecticut, and graduated from Goddard College in 1991. Over the years, she has been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and has worked with mentally ill adults and children in a few different capacities. Currently, she lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella.

Praise

“Like The Lovely Bones, this book is un-put-downable from page 1. The writing is exquisite and often very funny, and the themes of childhood and loss resonate. McMahon is particularly adept at creating children, and the vibrant world of imagination where they seek a respite from reality.” —Boston Globe

Discussion Questions

When the rabbit kidnaps Ernie, Rhonda finds herself unable to act because she’s so completely caught off guard by what she sees. Have you ever been so surprised (or overcome with any emotion) you were paralyzed?

Island of Lost Girls moves back and forth through time, essentially following two interweaving storylines. Do you think this was an effective structure? How did it affect your reading of the book?

Rhonda has two love interests: Peter and Warren. How are they different? In what ways are they similar? And how does the Peter of Rhonda’s youth compare to the man he is as an adult?

What are your observations about the different roles that fantasy, imagination, and make-believe play in the lives of both the children and adults? Do any of the characters really live in the here and now? Are these forms of escapism helpful or harmful?

Justine seems passive and removed, but later, Rhonda comes to believe that Justine didn’t just see what was going on, but may have had a hand in hiding evidence to protect the children. Do you see her as weak or strong? A victim or a protector?

Daniel and Clem had been friends since boyhood. How did this affect Clem’s vision of Daniel? Did it give him blind spots? And how does Rhonda’s childhood friendship with Peter influence her judgment about his possible involvement in Ernie’s kidnapping?

Ella Starkee says, “Sometimes, what a person needs most is to be forgiven.” What did you think of how themes of forgiveness are played out in Island of Lost Girls? Are there unforgivable acts?

Some of the townspeople blame Trudy Florucci for Ernie’s abduction, for being a “bad mother.” Trudy blames Rhonda, and Rhonda blames herself. Ultimately, is there any one person at fault for what happens to Ernie? Why do you think people are so eager to find someone to take the blame?