Girl A – Abigail Dean

Published by: HarperFiction
Pages: 336
Date released: 21/01/2021
Date read: 13/02/2021

Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

I was a bit apprehensive about reading this book as I’d read a few books recently hailed as “the best book of the year”, “terrifying”, “full of suspense, “it will stay with you for weeks after”, and I would end up being really disappointed with them. And I was worried this would be another one of those. Promises everything but delivers nothing.

How wrong I was.

Girl A is a powerhouse of a novel. Abigail Dean manages to strike fear and disgust in the reader but without going into over-the-top horror territory. She writes these characters in a way where you, sadly, believe this is happening. And I think that’s the most fantastically disturbing thing about it. This kind of thing has happened, and does happen, and will happen again.

I find it isn’t so much about what happened to the children as children, but more about what is happening to the children now as adults. It’s all when and good to support the children when it’s happening and to get them on the straight and narrow, but what about when they become adults themselves. How are they meant to deal with the aftermath of a terrible childhood without help?
It may only be February, but I am already quietly confident about calling this “the book of 2021”.

And forget about saying it will stay with you for weeks after. I think I’ll be thinking about this book for many years to come.

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