After long years of being away from the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I’m going to write about thrillers of all stripes, mysteries, and crime novels for 26 days in April, based on the letters of the alphabet. All posts will be linked here.
After Friend Request by Laura Marshall, I bring you , Girl A by Abigail Dean.
Girl A by Abigail Dean: Book Description
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, the eldest sister who freed her older brother and four younger siblings. It’s been easy enough to avoid her parents–her father never made it out of the House of Horrors he created, and her mother spent the rest of her life behind bars.
But 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 siblings – and with the childhood they shared.
Girl A by Abigail Dean : Excerpt
You don’t know me, but you’ll have seen my face. In the earlier pictures, they bludgeoned our features with pixels, right down to our waists; even our hair was too distinctive to disclose. But the story and its protectors grew weary, and in the danker corners of the Internet we became easy to find. The favored photograph was taken in front of the house on Moor Woods Road, early on a September evening. We had filed out and lined up, six of us in height order and Noah in Ethan’s arms, while Father arranged the composition. Little white wraiths squirming in the sunshine. Behind us, the house rested in the last of the day’s light, shadows spreading from the windows and the door. We were still and looking at the camera. It should have been perfect. But just before Father pressed the button, Evie squeezed my hand and turned up her face toward me; in the photograph, she is just about to speak, and my smile is starting to curl. I don’t remember what she said, but I’m quite sure that we paid for it, later.
I arrived at the prison in the midafternoon. On the drive I had been listening to an old playlist made by JP, Have a Great Day, and without the music and the engine, the car was abruptly quiet. I opened the door. Traffic was building on the motorway, the noise of it like the ocean.
The prison had released a short statement confirming Mother’s death. I read the articles online the evening before, which were perfunctory, and which all concluded with a variation of the same happy ending: the Gracie children, some of whom have waived their anonymity, are believed to be well. I sat in a towel on the hotel bed with room service on my lap, laughing. At breakfast, there was a stack of local newspapers next to the coffee; Mother was on the front page, underneath an article about a stabbing at Wimpy Burger. A quiet day.
My room included a hot buffet, and I kept eating right up until the end, when the waitress told me that the kitchen had to begin preparing for lunch.
‘People stop for lunch?’ I asked.
‘You’d be surprised,’ she said. She looked apologetic. ‘Lunch isn’t included with the room, though.’
‘That’s okay,’ I said. ‘Thanks. That was really good.’
When I started my job, my mentor, Julia Devlin, told me that the time would come when I would tire of free food and free alcohol; when my fascination with platters of immaculate canapes would wane; when I would no longer set my alarm to get to a hotel breakfast. Devlin was right about a lot of things, but not about that.
About the author, Abigail Dean
Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took a summer off to work on her debut novel, Girl A, ahead of her thirtieth birthday.
Why pick up Girl A by Abigail Dean
This debut novel is based on a real case, unfortunately–the Turpin House of Horrors saga, where a couple abused their thirteen children for more than a decade until the eldest daughter escaped her chains and alerted the police in 2018. The novel is based pretty closely on this tragic story, and Dean follows and mirrors the details of the case.
This is a bleak read, and more a psychological drama than a thriller. I have come to love this genre that reads more like a Netflix documentary, with the conflicts, secrets and suffering of an entire family at the hands of those who were supposed to protect it. The story moves between the past and present–before the rescue and after, and it often gets quite intense.
Lex is not entirely likable, which is natural considering the horror and extremes of her suffering and the pain she witnessed. In the end though, it is a survival story, the story of human suffering and triumph over it, and this made the reading very worthwhile for me.
Have you read the book Girl A by Abigail Dean? If yes, what did you think of it? What thrillers have you read lately?
Through the month of April, to celebrate the challenge and get some support for THE BLUE BAR, I’m holding this giveaway:
Enter to WIN a 50 USD Amazon gift card for this
Entries are simple: click the RAFFLECOPTER link above, and follow the instructions. It calls for a Goodreads add, a subscription request, and a follow on Instagram.
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