The Gaps by Leanne Hall, Text Publishing


Shortlist year: 2022

Shortlist category: Young adult literature

Published by: Text Publishing

When sixteen-year-old Yin Mitchell is abducted, the news reverberates through the whole Year Ten class at Balmoral Ladies College. As the hours tick by, the girls know the chance of Yin being found alive is becoming smaller and smaller.

Everyone is affected by Yin's disappearance – even scholarship student Chloe, who usually stays out of Balmoral dramas, is drawn into the maelstrom. And when she begins to form an uneasy alliance with Natalia, the queen of Year Ten, things get even more complicated.

A tribute to friendship in all its guises, 'The Gaps' is a moving examination of vulnerability and strength, safety and danger, and the particular uncertainties young women face in the world.

About the author

The Gaps by Leanne Hall, Text Publishing

Leanne Hall

Leanne Hall is an author of young adult and children's fiction. Her debut novel, 'This Is Shyness', won the Text Prize for Children's and Young Adult Writing, and was followed by a sequel, 'Queen of the Night'. Her novel for younger readers, 'Iris and the Tiger', won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature at the 2017 NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Leanne works as a children's and YA specialist at an independent bookshop.

Judges' comments

This complex and absorbing dual narrative psychological thriller begins with the news that Yin Mitchell, a Year 10 student from the exclusive private girls' school Balmoral, has been abducted. Rumours swirl, as suspicion and fear spread amongst the girls and their families

Scholarship student Chloe has been at Balmoral for six months, and still feels like an outsider, caught between her old life at the local high school, and the privileged, high achieving culture of Balmoral. Natalia is the queen of Year 10, haughty, commanding, fierce and outspoken. As time goes on, and hope that Yin will be found safe starts to dwindle, Chloe and Natalia are drawn together through Chloe's art project, with Natalie agreeing to be photographed. This act of self-expression is motivated by Chloe's desire to critique how society fetishises teenage girls, and has unexpected consequences not only for Chloe and Natalia, but for the whole school community. As Natalia's invincible façade starts to unravel, Chloe learns of Natalia's long connection to Yin, and both girls have to face the reality of Yin's fate.

Chloe and Natalia's evolving friendship is portrayed with aching authenticity, as is the depiction of their families and the school environment. Each, in distinct and perfectly drawn voices, confronts their own vulnerability, rage, fear, guilt, grief, somehow finding resilience in the face of a world that seems to want "their teenage girls ruined". Readers will find this book confronting yet compelling, and parents of teen girls would do well to process the truths contained and prosecuted therein.