Girl A (Review) // A riveting read with a sharp sense of realism and a twist that will leave you speechless

For readers of Room and Sharp Objects, a propulsive and psychologically immersive novel about a young girl who escapes captivity–but not the secrets that shadow the rest of her life.

“‘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, 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.

What begins as a propulsive tale of escape and survival becomes a gripping psychological family story about the shifting alliances and betrayals of sibling relationships—about the secrets our siblings keep, from themselves and each other. Who have each of these siblings become? How do their memories defy or galvanize Lex’s own? As Lex pins each sibling down to agree to her family’s final act, she discovers how potent the spell of their shared family mythology is, and who among them remains in its thrall and who has truly broken free.

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After finishing Girl A, I closed the book and continued to sit there as shivers ran down my spine. It was as if all that was contained within the volume resurfaced in my mind and hit me all at once. It’s undeniable that this book is truly brilliant. Interweaving past and present, Girl A explores the complex characters and relationship dynamics of the Gracie family, showing the ways one can move forward while still being stuck in the past.

I am in extreme awe of the way Abigail Dean has created such complicated yet deeply believable characters who drive this story. In the narrator, Alexandra “Lex” Gracie, we find someone who has risen out of the ashes of the childhood and rebuilt herself as a successful lawyer. When she is forced to face her past, she is brought back to all her memories of her childhood. Through her interactions with her siblings in the present you get the sense that there were many sides to the story, which is the other true genius of these characters; they’re all unreliable. Each sibling has their own struggle to face, which results in a different view on their shared past.

My one grievance was the pacing. While I saw the merits of drawing out the story and telling it in vivid detail, at times the lengthy description felt a little unnecessary and hindered my enjoyment of the story. I thought the strongest points of the plot were all woven deeply into the overarching storyline, bits and pieces that the reader was reminded of when a big reveal came.

Girl A is a truly excellent exploration of identity, trauma, and relationships, a compelling story of how your past informs your present. To those who have been looking for an amazing psychological thriller; I believe you’ve found your book. 

~I received an ARC from HarperCollins NZ and willingly reviewed it~

What are some of your favourite psychological thrillers? Are there any books that would instantly make your must-read list if it was compared to a certain book, and if so what book?

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