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On December 1, 1946, Paula Jean Welden put on a bright red parka, left her Bennington College dorm for a hike, and vanished into the thin mountain air. Paula Jean’s disappearance captivated the post-war nation, leading to news articles, false sightings, rumors, psychic visions, and a short story by Shirley Jackson. Inspired by this unsolved mystery, quantum girl theory asks: does a missing girl become the person—or even the people—others imagine her to be? Or was she already someone else entirely? At the center of this brilliant jigsaw puzzle of a novel is Paula Jean herself, now known as Mary Garrett, a clairvoyant with a concealed past, hustling for reward money by searching for missing girls. In 1961, a poster about a missing girl lures Mary to a town in the Jim Crow south, where she discovers that it’s not just one white girl who’s disappeared; two Black girls have vanished as well. With everyone from the white girl’s mother to the local sheriff resenting her presence in town, Mary can’t trust anyone. And then there are the strange visions that come to Mary, a phenomenon she calls “the sight”. As stories appear from other lives Paula Jean might have lived—a circus showgirl hiding from her past; a literary forger on the verge of discovery; a McCarthy–era informant in love with a woman she meets in a Communist cell—a reader may be prompted to ask whether Mary herself can be trusted.
Udgivet af Random House
Erin Kate Ryan