Winner of Sweden's most prestigious literary prize for young readers, Girls Lost is a thriller featuring three teenage girls: Kim, Bella, and Momo. The three occupy a challenging limbo between childhood and adulthood, made only more difficult by the steady provocation of their malicious male classmates and pubescent bodies that are changing beyond their control. They are on the precipice of a grown-up world that seems to be broken into two groups: male and female; public and private; assailant and target. Eager to escape, the girls seek refuge in Bella’s greenhouse, a free zone where their imaginations run wild and their talents can flourish.
After their classmates’ violations escalate, the three friends plant a strange seed in the greenhouse, and a shimmering, magical flower blossoms. Intrigued, they drink the nectar from the flower, and suddenly find themselves transformed from girls to boys until the next morning. The three return each night to drink from the flower, anxious to explore their world — and new, older male friends — with agency and freedom. As they fall deeper into the boys’ world, they discover a new reality, one of power and violence, of gangs and drugs. When their nightly escapades turn darker, two of the teens grow wary, ready to turn back and face the reality of womanhood; but Kim is determined to see their discovery to its catastrophic, fiery end.
In this tale, the body is a battlefield, and masculinity is a drug. Brilliantly poetic and deeply poignant, this magical story was adapted into an internationally-renowned feature film exploring how we shape our identity, and how we cope with our own transformations.
2021 Pen Translation Prize Finalist
“Without doubt a worthy and interesting August Prize Winner." — Aftonbladet
“Surprise of the year: Girls Lost /… / Completely unexpected and well executed.” — Smålandsposten
“Brave fantasy with existential questions /… / Well done to Jessica Schiefauer for not choosing the simple way.” — Sydsvenskan
“The style is unadorned, with powerful metaphors. The language is hard and soft; aware of the ferocity of a flower.” — Dagens Nyheter
“In a glowing and contemporary saga about love, death and rebirth [Jessica Schiefauer] helps her three teenage Orlando characters free themselves and explore the limits of the self. Together, and on their own, the three characters explore their genders, their bodies and their desires, beyond established boundaries. During the day they are “the girls”: the maladjusted, the exposed, the constantly observed. When night falls they become “the boys”: the anonymous observers. /… /...the borders of existence are – and must be permitted to be – so much larger than the volume restricted by the skin.” — Expressen
"I’m super excited about it… This is going to be one of those power-packed little books.” — Ink and Paper Blog
“Girls Lost is captivating as its three leads explore the universal challenges of teenage angst, conflicts between perception and reality, and the power of another’s gaze to free or entrap you.” — Foreword Review, Kristen Rabe
“A powerful novel about gender, sexuality and power relations that will have you turn page after page without even realizing it. Thanks to Saskia Vogel, the poetic and empathetic voice of this novel has found its way into the English version.” — Book of the Week, 24 Stories
"While its plot is relatively easy to summarize—three teenagers discover that a mysterious plant can change them from boys to girls—Jessica Schiefauer’s Girls Lost doesn’t avoid the complexities that could arise from such a scenario. The ways in which desire and identity converge within the pages of this book have the power to haunt, even as the narrative moves forward at a rapid pace. It’s a page-turner that lingers." — Words Without Borders, Tobias Carroll
“A powerful novel about gender, sexuality and power relations that will have you turn page after page without even realizing it.” — 24 Symbols