Here I am again, with another day, another book, another “it was FINE” review. I keep finding myself saying “Maybe if I read fewer books I would have enjoyed it more.” Wouldn’t have seen the plot twist coming, would have found the plot more gripping, etc. Well…nonetheless, I read Girl A by Abigail Dean, and I’d give it like 3.5 stars. I was just kind of underwhelmed.
Girl A is Alexandra, Lex, the oldest girl of seven siblings, the one who escaped the House of Horrors they had been living in with their mother and father and got help. Now, almost a decade and a half (I think) after they escaped, Lex is drawn back to their town when her mother dies in jail and lives her as the executor of her will. That includes the very House of Horrors Lex jumped through a window to escape from. Can she get her siblings permission to turn it into the community center she and her sister, Evie, want? Told in chapters named after each sibling, Lex must visit the siblings she was separated from after their escape, all while we relive the trauma she experienced. in the end, there’s an underwhelming plot twist, an attempt at forgiveness, and a kind of overall underwhelming book. If you like thrillers and suspense and justice, this book isn’t really…that. It’s more of a meditation on trauma? But without too much resolution?
To start, this “House of Horrors” is clearly based on the real story of the father who held his family hostage for years, etc. It’s one of those “can’t look away” stories that then kind of fades…and this book tries to explore what it must be like for the survivors. But it does so by making several of the survivors SUPER unlikeable, giving the protagonist a career path that kind of appears out of nowhere, and includes a plot twist that was not only unpredictable and overwhelming, but like….barely a plot twist? I kind of assumed it was the case the whole time…didn’t know it was going to be the “twist” about 90% in, LOL.
I’m not really sure how I would categorize this book. It’s not a thriller or suspense or a mystery, but it’s also not REALLY literary fiction. It’s just kind of…there. Like, if you read a lot of books about BAD things and BAD families, you’re going to not be surprised by the actions of the villains in the story, kind of overwhelmed by the structural narrative, and disappointed in the ending.
3.5 stars….maybe 3 now that I think about it.