2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · mystery · new release

New Release Book Review: Girl A by Abigail Dean

Title: Girl A

Author: Abigail Dean

Published: January 20th 2021

Publisher: Harper Collins – GB

Pages: 336

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

‘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.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.

Review:

Girl A, penned by British Google lawyer Abigail Dean, is tipped to become the ‘it’ book of the season. This debut novel by Abigail Dean presents an extremely twisted, infernal and agonising look at a severe case of family abuse at the hands of a religious fanatic. An urgent and dynamic novel from cover to cover, Girl A will appeal to psychological thriller fans.

At the centre of this shocking tale of childhood abuse and the after effects of this awful crime is Lex Gracie. Subjected to unimaginable abuse and neglect at the hands of her parents, Lex eventually escaped.  Years later, Lex has forged a new life for herself in a perpetual state of anonymity. When her mother dies in prison, Lex must deal with the inheritance of her old family home, a place that holds horrific memories of undue abuse. With the support of her siblings, Lex begins to make plans to turn the house into a positive site. In this process, Lex must make strides to accept the trauma that defined her family’s past.

Inspired by true crime stories such as the Turpin children, who were held for years under the wrath of their parents and subjected to unfathomable abuse, Girl A looks at the impact of a similar house of horrors style family crime. Presented in psychological thriller style fiction format, Girl A is a forceful debut from new writer Abigail Dean.

The figurehead of this truly appalling case and story is Lex Gracie, also dubbed as Girl A. Lex opens the first chapter of Girl A with her moving testimony, which covers her miraculous and brave escape from the evil clutches of her parents. Each of the chapters that follow outlines the past and present life story of each of Lex’s siblings. Dean uses an honest approach to unpack each sibling’s history, experiences and life as an adult dealing with the fallout of their traumatic childhood. The reader learns how each respective child coped and how this has shaped their life choices as an adult. While some have sunk into the background, trying to escape the past, others have embraced the spotlight. The intricacies of these sibling relationships are explored well thanks to Dean’s intuitive approach.

There seemed to be an air of ambiguity to Girl A that did serve to baffle me more than a few times. I did feel like it was down to me to read between the lines and consider the possibilities in relation to this tragic case. I wasn’t entirely sure if I was being presented with a straight-out religious cult order, a horrific case of family abuse, an untreated mental illness case on behalf of the parents, or a crime of child abduction. The experiences highlighted were just rotten to the core, as we learn of instances of starvation, neglect, chaining children against their will and more. Either way, I carefully waded through the experiences that were presented to me by all of the characters, which helped me to make some final assumptions. A late twist to proceedings seemed to flip this one on its head, sending me in quite a spin.

Girl A offers a candid presentation of a dark and emotional case of abuse of the worst kind. Despite the cruel nature of this fictional family crime, Abigail Dean’s book is a story that has the capacity to reel readers in. Add this gripping page turner to your purchase list today!

Girl A by Abigail Dean was published on 20th January 2021 by Harper Collins – GB. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Girl A, Abigail Dean, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Harper Collins Books Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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