The Müllers are a grieving family after losing their
youngest member. The parents, Stefan and Evangeline,
struggle in their own ways, often turning to other people
than each other. Tess, the oldest daughter, hasn't spoken in
months. Meg, the younger, takes her anger out on others.
Even Tess's teacher, Jim, gets wrapped up in their grief
after escaping his own circumstances. When human remains are
found, an old mystery is dredged up, threatening the small
progress they've all made.
While I like many components of THE WORLD WITHOUT US by
Mireille Juchau, it was ultimately not the best fit for me.
The exploration of each family member is moving and often
melancholy. Like any family going through a tragedy, no one
quite knows how to act, and they attempt to seek their own
comforts individually, some drifting more apart than others.
Tess's narrative is particularly touching, as she is often
caught in the middle of them all. The haunting tone of the
story easily pulls readers in, though the use of dialogue
without quotes won't appeal to everyone.
Much of the story is fragmented, and this makes the plot
line confusing in parts. Each character's past is jumbled,
which makes understanding the big mystery a little
difficult. However, meticulous readers will enjoy searching
for the tiniest clue as more information is given towards
the second half.
THE WORLD WITHOUT US by Mireille Juchau is a good pick for
readers who like complex family dynamics, melancholy tones,
and mysteries that go back years.
Thirteen-year-old Tess Müller stopped speaking six months
ago. Her silence is baffling to her parents, her teachers,
and her younger sister, Meg, but the more urgent mystery for
both girls is where their mother Evangeline goes each day,
pushing an empty pram and returning home wet, muddy, and
Their father, Stefan, struggling with his own losses, tends
to his apiary and tries to understand why his bees are
disappearing. But after he discovers a car wreck and human
remains on their farm, old secrets emerge to threaten the
One day Tess's teacher Jim encounters Evangeline by the wild
Repentance River. Jim is in flight from his own troubles in
in Sydney, and Evangeline, raised in a mountain commune and
bearing the scars of the fire that destroyed it, is a puzzle
he longs to solve.
As the forest trees are felled and the lakes fill with
run-off from the expanding mines, Tess watches the landscape
of her family undergo shifts of its own. A storm is
coming--and the Müllers are in its path.