On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on the debut novel by Abigail Dean, Girl A.
‘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.
There has been such a buzz surrounding Girl A by Abigail Dean, I knew I had to bump it right to the top of my TBR pile. This is a very dark read. It’s haunting and powerful, and in fact, as I was so immersed in the story, I didn’t want it to end.
We meet Lex, who has been dubbed ‘Girl A,’ by the press following her escape from her parents ‘house of horrors,’ when she was young. Now a successful lawyer living in New York, she has to come back to the UK, following her mother’s death, who has died in prison. Her mother has left the house they grew up in, to her and her siblings in her will. And now, coming back home, Lex once again has to face her past.
Abigail Dean’s writing draws you into her story right from the very first page. It’s not a fast paced read, but I found myself utterly gripped by the story and the characters. Lex was a character who I wanted to find out more about, and I wanted to know the full details of what had happened in her childhood. You can see just how uncomfortable she is about the idea of coming back home. She just wants the visit to be over and done with and to be allowed to get on with the rest of her life, and I couldn’t really blame her for thinking this way. She doesn’t want to hear anything about her mother’s final days. Some of the prison staff try to persuade her to think of her mother in a different light. They also, try to tell her how much they believe she has changed.
Abigail Dean gradually begins to reveal more information. In the flashback scenes, I found Abigail’s writing very intense as she explores the relationship between Lexie and her parents. In the present, we can see just how much the years spent with their parents have affected the children as adults.
I found I did struggle to feel any sympathy for Lex. She came across as very cold as I was reading the book. I felt this, especially when it seemed that she wasn’t too keen to spend time with the rest of her family.
Girl A is such a compelling read. I deliberately slowed down so that I could savour it and that doesn’t happen very often when I’m reading. I’m sure this is a book which I’ll keep returning to from time to time, and I can’t wait to see what Abigail Dean comes up with next. I highly recommend it.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: 21st January 2021
Print length: 336 pages
Girl A is available to buy: