Ever since Sophie Mac first arrived at Eastbrook High School, feeling excluded as her solo Mum had no money for things like nice shoes, she has always stuck with the first two girls who befriended her: Sophie A and Twiggy (Sophie Twigg). The trio of Sophies are tight friends, that is until Sophie A disappears, and Mac starts writing a diary …
We read Mac’s diary in reverse for a good part of the book, counting down the number of days till Sophie A disappears. But the diary entries also flash back to earlier events, the events that led up to the disappearance, and include nightmarish dreams which add to the complexity of the narrative. And after day 0 the story continues in its tangled and tense way.
Sophie A has the looks Mac wishes she had, and Twiggy the money. Mac works part time at a supermarket, and makes a bit of money off Twiggy, helping her with her schoolwork – she is the bright one of the three. They are in their last year of school and Mac has an interest in being a forensic pathologist, which adds a background of bleakness to her outlook. There is another moving force in the lives of the Sophies, an English teacher, James Bacon. He first encounters Mac when she is out running, and not realising she is a school student, he draws her into a relationship. But soon after he gets a job at her high school, and all excuses for continuing the relationship are gone.
James is manipulative and violent – but he is Mac’s first relationship and all her peers, such as her friend Will, pale in comparison. After Sophie A’s disappearance, Twiggy drifts away, leaving Mac alone with her thoughts and fears. Mac has become proficient at lying due to her having to keep her illicit relationship secret, and she finds she is adept at fabricating the past – after all, memories are malleable. A Trio of Sophies deals with coming of age, honesty, jealously and most of all the destructive results of teacher/student relationships, where the adult has such power over the student. Mac is not the only victim of the relationship; her weaving of a convincing and false reality leads to others being hurt terribly. And even while she is plotting her revenge on him, Mac still sees James as her first love, he still has power over her.
The structure of the novel is excellent, complex and mind bending. And the reader is finding out crucial information right up until the end. It is an engrossing read, and occasionally you get a glimpse of the innocent last year of high school which might have been had Mac not gone running that fateful day. A Trio of Sophies is marketed as a young adult novel, and would suit the older range of that category, and adults.