Jenny Rowan has spent years re-building her life. After being kidnapped at the age of eight by a paedophile and kept under his bed for two years, she finally managed to break free and ends up living in her local mall. It takes 18 months for the urban legend of ‘mall girl’ to be found and placed in the state care system after she can’t even remember her real name. We meet Jenny yeas later after she’s built herself a life and career, but her past starts catching up with her.
Although I fell in love with Sallis’s style and generally the way he writes I didn’t really understand the meaning of the novella. It was as if there were so many avenues that Sallis could have taken and so many unanswered questions remained at the end. The story moves quite quickly and you can generally assume that this is building up to a key part of the story. It wasn’t until after I finished I realised that there isn’t a huge moment in this novel, instead, the plot actually seems to reflect the personality of the protagonist.
I found the character of Jenny to be sweet but I don’t feel like I really knew her throughout the novel. The changes were almost too quick and despite knowing her back story the reader doesn’t have a relationship with her. The novel doesn’t focus on Jenny’s past, which although others say is one of the perks, I found quite disappointing. I also didn’t understand the relationship between Jenny and Jack, it didn’t really make sense to me and perhaps that is due to the lack of context. They just seemed to be thrown together and get on instantly, it didn’t seem real or likely. As did Jenny’s relationship with Cheryl, while it highlighted Jenny’s open and caring nature, this also seemed rushed, perhaps because this is a novella. That said Jenny’s empathy for the squatters was what, for me, showed her as the ‘good person’ she is described as on the back of the book.
Overall I enjoyed the short story and it was interesting but it could have done with more suspense or general push behind it. I’m going to give this 3 stars ***, I did enjoy it but I found it difficult to follow. For example, Sallis also brings in some sort of political agenda, one which I struggled to understand. While it relates to Jenny’s past I wish it had added more suspense rather than just being there as an issue and a link. This would definitely have made a much better full length novel in my opinion.