A slow burning literary thriller with a psychological twist.
Abigail Dean’s haunting debut—Girl A—focuses on the aftermath rather than the actual abuse inflicted on the characters, reflected within the current timeline as flashbacks. We follow Alexandra Gracie; a survivor—now a successful lawyer—and learn about the conditions she and her siblings were subjected to, including the lengths they went to survive, depicting the ugly truths of human nature.
Dean’s razor-sharp prose and use of flashback (which I found somewhat confusing at times) gives the reader a shocking glimpse into Lex’s cruel past and highlights an overarching theme around the psychological implications of childhood trauma. The story is well researched so I wasn’t surprised to learn of the author’s fascination for true crime, focusing on several cases–the most recent being the Turpin case in 2018—in which she selectively drew inspiration for her characters. The one shining light in this story is the protagonist’s wish to create a positive from a negative with the creation of a therapeutic space on the land where their childhood home stood.
While I do agree that this book is a wonderful literary accomplishment, I found the topic triggering to read about. I also found the length of each chapter a bit too long (personal preference) to get through in one sitting. I would recommend this book to those readers who enjoy a much slower burn with less action. It’s a very different pace than I’m used to reading but there is a lot of well-deserved praise surrounding this book. Each character is unique and I found it extremely interesting to learn how far they’d all come after having experienced such profound trauma.
I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a slow-paced psychological burn, an unreliable narrator, and a twisty thriller based on true crime.
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 home into a force for good. But first, she must come to terms with her siblings–and with the childhood they shared.