DELIBLE by Anne Stone (Insomniac), 312 pages, $21.95 paper. Rating: NNNN
No one expects much from the sisters at the centre of Delible, the inventive and lushly rendered third novel by Vancouver writer Anne Stone.
These young women work in fast food joints and lose their virginity in the cat-piss stink of older boys' houses. They stay out all night in the bleak margins of the burgeoning suburb of Streetsville and obsess over the father they haven't seen since infancy. They are troubled, like most teenagers, and they know what the world thinks of them.
Stone draws a bleak but beautiful picture of Mississauga in the 1980s through the eyes of Lora Sprague, a 15-year-old dealing with the sudden disappearance of her slightly older sister, Mel.
The cops don't take it seriously; a previous stint as a runaway and suicide attempt exclude her from the list of missing girls worth being found, even after her glasses and bag are discovered at Islington station.
Stone does an excellent job of examining the ways teen girls are often pathologized and understood only via the dichotomies of good and bad behaviour.
There's no tidy arc to the novel - a perfect stylistic choice that matches the anxiety, grief and continual uncertainty that the family and friends of the missing must deal with lifelong.
Instead of filling in the blank spaces, Stone creates a story out of that ever-present feeling of absence. That said, Delible is the most linear of her published works thus far.
It ends with no sudden satisfaction, no tidy conclusion. It's is a haunting story of one teen girl's experience of trauma and of the misrepresentation of missing and murdered poor women by the media and the police, who often disregard them in both life and death.