Girl A by Abigail Dean
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 2nd 2021 by Viking
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.
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.
I’m finding it hard to get really absorbed in a book at the moment, but this one had me from page 1 and I was totally gripped.
Narrated by Lex, the book jumps back and forth in time and tells the story of the House of Horrors in which Lex grew up with her siblings. Lex isn’t necessarily the most sympathetic of characters; she is flawed and damaged – yet somehow very believable – and of course her character is understandable given her past experiences.
After her mother dies, we follow Lex as she catches up with her siblings, each of whom has been affected in their own ways by their awful upbringing.
I found it fascinating to read how their awful childhood affected each of the siblings in different – yet totally plausible – ways. Each sibling felt well rounded and believable in their reactions and behaviours. I also liked the fact that this wasn’t a gory, sensationalist retelling of the House of Horrors – instead a lot was merely hinted at and left to the reader’s imagination.
There was a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming (in fact I had predicted a completely different twist that never came!) and a slightly open-ended conclusion which seemed fitting to this brilliant novel.
I highly recommend this superior and well-written psychological novel.
My rating: 9 out of 10