Cover Image: Girl A

Girl A

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Member Reviews

This was an absolutely fantastic read. I could not put it down. It starts off with a bang and doesn't stop until the very end. Lex Gracie is Girl A. She has lived with adoptive parents for most of her life saving her from a life of abuse and neglect, but when she is aged just 15 she learns of the death of her birth mother. This news is not a cause of sorrow or remorse for her, but becomes significant because her mother has named her as the executor of her will. Therefore her death, becomes a concern of hers, inadvertently.  We learn that her home, was known as The House of Horrors. We learn of the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her parent. The details are traumatic, unbelievable. The story jumps from past to present and is truly disturbing in parts, but excellently told. I won't forget it in a hurry.
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I enjoyed this, a lot of emotions were felt in this book due to the nature of the story.

Thank you NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
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We’ve all read headlines about horrifying cases, both in South Africa and abroad, where a family of children are locked up for years by their parents in unimaginable conditions of neglect and abuse. This electrifying debut novel is based on just such an outrage and its tragic fallout. 
Lex, or Girl A as the eldest girl became known after her brave escape, and her many siblings were locked away for years by their parents. The novel opens when Lex finds out her mother has died in prison and she has been named executor of the will. Supported by her beloved sister Evie, Lex decides to turn the family House of Horrors into a force for good so she sets about tracking down her various siblings to get their assent. Each member of the family has assimilated the nightmare in different ways and through their stories the truth about their nightmarish past unfolds. Eventually Lex must return to the scene of the crime and confront her own demons.
This is a dark and edgy page-turner that you will not be able to put down. A brilliant read.
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I really enjoyed this book - which made me feel a bit icky for enjoying it because of the subject matter of the book and the fact that the main character had been abused most of her childhood. I was gripped right from the start and couldn't put it down. a hard hitting but amazing read.
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Really enjoyed reading something different and real.
This book really tested my emotions they all came out while reading this. I will admit there were times i did not want to read anymore but i cared about Lex so i finished it and I am so glad i did.
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This was a difficult book to read as it was basically a story about child abuse which is not really my normal sort of reading material.
To be honest I didn’t realise that this was the main theme of the novel - I was expecting more of a psychological thriller, my normal preferred genre. However, that being said I did read till the end and I even felt that the main character, Girl A- Lex- the main narrator, was well drawn.
It is the story of seven siblings who have grown up in an abusive home where their father is a religious fanatic who progressively becomes more and more controlling to the extent that the children are kept locked up, starved and not even allowed to go to school.
Lex has come to England from NewYork where she works as a lawyer as her mother has died in prison and she has been appointed executor to the estate. She must meet up with her siblings and return to the house where they were so cruelly treated.
This brings back her memories of that time and there are flashbacks to her life and that of her brothers and sisters..
We are also given an insight into her relationship with her psychiatrist, Doctor K, who treated Lex after she escaped from the “house of horrors”.
Girl A was a compelling  story but by no means an easy and quick read. There was so much unpleasantness in the book that I could really only read small parts at a time as it was just so  heartbreaking. 
I thought that the chapters were well constructed as they cleverly revealed what had happened to the seven children in the past whilst showing their present day lives. There were a few unexpected twists towards the end which made the story even more harrowing.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my arc in exchange for an honest review.
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This wasn't for me. I found the timelines a bit hard to follow at times and was excepting more of a thriller than I got. It is a very slow pace book and the chapters are long which makes it feel a bit of a slog which is not what I want from a thriller. Maybe I would try this author again with another book but didn't live up to my expectations
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Fascinating and gripping debut novel about a world that you never want to think about. Girl A is one of 7 siblings who have been kept as prisoners by their parents throughout their childhood, as their father's religious obsession takes deeper and deeper hold. Girl A - Lex - is our narrator, and the story is told in flashbacks to their childhood as well as finding out what happened to the family afterwards. Seeing how their abusive childhood played out in different ways in the different siblings was compelling and kept the pages turning.
Well worth a read, thanks to Netgalley for the chance to read it
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“𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒔𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒇𝒆𝒘 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒏 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒄𝒉 𝒏𝒆𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝒖𝒔 𝒘𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒗𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒕.”

𝐆𝐢𝐫𝐥 𝐀 𝐛𝐲 𝐀𝐛𝐢𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐥 𝐃𝐞𝐚𝐧

Abused as a child, Lex doesn't want to think of her parents or the place she grew up (house of horrors) but when her mom dies is prison and she is given the house with  responsibility of sharing with her older and younger siblings, she is forced to come to terms with the past.

Firstly, this is not a thriller as I assumed and was tagged by many people when the book released. This book is what happened to the main characters after the abuse they face as a child. The book jumps in time, giving details of horrors in abrupt flashbacks and the current relationship with the siblings.

I was more interested to read thrillers at that time so it felt a bit slow read for me. This book is psychological fiction/ family drama kind of genre. The pain the siblings endure when they have to go back to the place of abuse and how they deal with it makes this book.

A story about survival and healing of abused people!! Love psychology? Story of survival? Healing? This book is for you!!

Thank you @netgalley @harpercollins for my copy ❤️

TW: Child abuse and neglect
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I was so excited to get this book. I had massive expectations for this and everyone and more was met!! DO not miss out on it. It deserves every award going and is superb
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I wasn't planning to read this. While I really enjoyed Room which seemed to imagine how a powerful mother-child bond could overcome unimaginable horror, the subsequent trend for fiction exploring extreme abuse and captivity felt sensationalist and exploitative. Books such as My Absolute Darling seemed designed more to titillate rather than granting a voice to the victims and increasingly, I shied away. In recent years, there has been a tendency to force female characters into torture situations under the pretext of 'bearing witness' to the sufferings of women down the centuries. It's bizarre faux-feminism given that it simply perpetuates violence against women. I was concerned therefore that Girl A would serve up more of the same. But then early reviews suggested that that the book offered a more nuanced perspective and when the opportunity for a review copy rolled around, I decided to give it a chance.

The titular Girl A introduces herself in the novel's opening lines, 'You don’t know me, but you’ll have seen my face. In the earlier pictures, they bludgeoned our features with pixels, right down to our waists; even our hair was too distinctive to disclose. But the story and its protectors grew weary, and in the danker corners of the internet we became easy to find.' She is Lex, or Alexandra Gracie, the girl who escaped from the house of horrors and alerted the world to the plight of her siblings. Nearly twenty years later, she jets back in to the UK from New York. Mother has died in prison and there are things to be put in order. The chaplain and prison officials trot out their platitudes but Lex is not interested. Unlike Delilah, who visited regularly, or Ethan who pointedly visited once and then wrote a newspaper article about it, Lex refused all contact with her Mother. The last time she saw her was through the doorway on the day she got free from her chains and fled the house.

As the circumstances of Lex's childhood leak out on to the page, it is clear that Dean has drawn heavy inspiration from the Turpin family in America. I felt uncomfortable about this because that family just seem to have been so heavily exploited already. But in many ways, the recent interview with two of the survivors has only served to highlight Dean's central thesis. And while I struggled with the descriptions of Father's ever increasing religious paranoia and abuse, Dean always drew back just before the tipping point. Girl A is not trying to sensationalise what Lex and her siblings went through. It considers instead what it means to have survived such appalling early circumstances, less how one survives the abuse but rather  the aftermath. Unlike Absolute Darling et al, we do not have to worry whether Lex will escape from the house. From the opening pages, we are assured that she is ok now. But as the book progresses, we see how things are not that simple.

Dean tapped into something which I have always found deeply troubling about how society processes these unspeakable acts. In my recent review of memoir The Cut Out Girl, I mentioned that I find it increasingly difficult to believe in stories. People try to take the story mountain structure and force it onto these tales of suffering. We want the happy ending not just for the victim but for ourselves. If they are ok, we don't have to feel guilty any more because we let it happen. I remember the Baby P case and how furious I felt when I read an online comment that it gave them a 'warm feeling inside' to see the floral tributes near the child's grave. What use was that after that beautiful little boy had been murdered? Similarly, the media assured us that the Turpin children were rehabilitating, were being cared for by specialists and that they were out living their best lives. The interview revealed that they were still traumatised, struggling with a lack of education and unable to access the money raised for them by well-wishers. And it goes on. Over the past few weeks, I have repeatedly found myself in tears over the awful death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, a child whose smile reminds me of my own son and who apparently shared his love of Julia Donaldson stories. There is no softness, no happy ending to be found in this case and while it is nothing to do with me, I still feel something akin to grief that that little boy died believing himself unloved. A minute's silence, a vigil, a lit candle - it does nothing to bring these children back, it does nothing to ease what they went through. It is nothing more than empty gestures, designed to alleviate our guilt because we did not protect those who were owed our protection. All I can give Arthur are my thoughts and prayers and it is not enough.

Because of this, I appreciated the way that Girl A raised an eyebrow at the 'survivor' narrative. The only one who has truly escaped is youngest child Noah, who was only a baby when the rescue occurred and who has been adopted by loving parents. Middle brother Gabriel has never known how to handle his notoriety, has been manipulated by his foster-parents, his friends and even those who claimed to love him. Lex herself reads a letter from a former teacher who expresses remorse that she did not intervene and hopes that Lex's love of reading has sustained her. In a 'story', this would lead to a moment of beautiful Matilda-esque reunion. But Lex just bins it - she has no patience for those who failed her. Most disturbing though is Ethan, eldest child and the one who has made the most hay on the back of his childhood. Yet even while Ethan exploits his survivor status, his version of events is highly edited. Lex remarks to him, 'I always used to think that it would be you who would save us. I waited. I would think – he isn’t even restrained. Any day now.' As the novel shifts and Lex comes to consider different perspectives, we wonder where the line is drawn between survivor and accomplice.

Girl A is a novel with a chill at its core. The adult Lex is assured that she is the most successfully adjusted of her siblings but she keeps the world at a distance, including the reader. We have to make do with the rare moments of warmth, such as from her ever loving adoptive father, the most compassionate person in the whole book. On a difficult day, he lies beside his grown up daughter on a trampoline and tells her about the dreams he has had of her as a child, 'You were tiny. Just 6 or 7. Long before I could have known you. They started off as nice dreams, really. But then there would always be the moment when you would have to go. It was like I knew all along that it was coming. And somehow — somehow I knew what you would have to go back to.' I think that this echoes so much of what I feel when I read these horrible stories in the media. If I could dream up a better reality, a better existence - even a better afterlife - I would. We see throughout the novel how so many of the characters in Girl A are trying to do just that. Adult Lex talks to her closest sibling Evie and the two of them imagine for themselves an alternative childhood, on a beach in a house filled with books. Thinking of these other versions, Evie wonders, '

“Do they know how lucky they are?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“I wish I could tell them.”

“No. Let them be.”

This is not a novel that I will re-read. But Dean has trodden a tricky tightrope with care and treated her characters with respect. The 'twist' is perhaps predictable but is nonetheless affecting. The question that I have for books in this genre is whether they are written to shock or to inform. Room imagined for the reader how the mother-child bond might help two people survive appalling circumstances. Forgetting Zoe helped me to understand how someone utterly isolated might bond with their abductor because there was nobody else available. Not easy reads but both books encouraged empathy. At heart, Girl A is a similarly compassionate novel, encouraging the reader to see how complex trauma is not something from which survivors can ever truly 'move on'. The Gracie siblings will carry on living on and carrying their pain - I particularly enjoyed the moments of dark humour shared between Delilah and Lex at Ethan's wedding - but their childhoods will continue to cloud their adult lives. I think of all the other survivors who walk among us every day, their trauma invisible to the naked eye. I think of those like little Arthur who never even made it that far. And I wish them any story that they would like to tell themselves to make their burdens lighter - they do not owe the wider world a happy ending.
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Girl A is Lex, one of 7 siblings who escapes from years of captivity and torment, under abusive parents.  On the death of her mother, she reconnects with her siblings in order to try and build something positive from the ruins of the house of horrors she grew up in.

I have mixed feelings about this novel and not because of the subject matter, but because it is patchily written. There are some very vivid and powerful sections, for example in some of the flashbacks to the chaining times or the interactions between Lex and Doctor K. But I found the novel to be slow and lacking in narrative thrust, an exploration of a situation, rather than a story. The 'twist' such as it is, can be seen far in advance.

To me, there are also significant gaps in the psychological explorations of mother, father and Ethan. I felt we needed to be shown more carefully, just how these personalities cracked and fell apart.  All in all, an interesting novel, but not a favourite.
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I struggled with this, and not just because the subject matter - systematic familial child abuse - was more than heavy going. No, what really bothered me was the narrative style, where the story was ostensibly told in first person by Lex, one of the siblings held captive by their religious fanatic of a father, but the novel also tries to tell the story of each sibling individually, meaning that it falls down in Lex knowing too much of their inner lives. But it wasn’t all bad, the story was grimly captivating enough to keep me reading, and there were smart little details I liked, such as Lex choosing to employ one of her father’s enemies to work in the community centre she sets up in their former home.
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“Girl A ...The girl who escaped. If anybody was going to make it, it was going to be you.”

This one took me a while, it's got such a mixed bag of reviews and I'm sitting firmly on the fence. This is a dark, riveting tale that explores the horrors of child abuse and neglect. Following the death of her parents, Lexie, the girl who escaped, is left to deal with their will and estate and is dragged back into a past she can't forget ... told through jumping, erratic timelines that didn't stay still we slowly piece together the horrific puzzle that is their childhood. 

Lexie herself was compelling, but distant. It felt like she was purposefully holding the reader at arms length, which while definitely added to the chilling aura of the story, kept me from fully connecting with her.
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I read this ARC for an honest review
All thoughts and opinions are mine

A new author to me
This was a fantastic read

Absolutely loved it and will be looking out for more from this author
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Lex is Girl A, a childhood abuse and neglect survivor. 
Lex is grown up and has her own life but when her birth mother dies in prison she must reconnect with her siblings to sort out her mothers estate. This brings back feelings and memories.
Set in dual timeline we have present day Lex trying to deal with her feelings and family while the flashbacks show the horror and torment she endures as a child.
Not one for the faint of heart but fantastic book!
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Disturbing, thrilling and heart wrenching.

A difficult story of child abuse, and the after effects of trying to construct a new life afterwards - this story is not for the faint hearted, and will leave you wrung out afterwards. An excellent thriller.
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A book that makes you think and to emote with characters and their experiences be t hey good or bad, thanks to enthralled for allowing me to read this book
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I was really drawn in by this book. So often we hear of tragic confinement events in the news, but then nothing. This story takes us through the aftermath of a brutal family hostage situation including flashbacks to their confinement. Where are they now? What lives are they living? How has the ordeal impacted on them? Complete with twists and both sadness and hope, this book got it just right. Thank you to NetGalley for the advance reader copy of this book.
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Lex Gracie is Girl A. At 15, she escaped from the family home where she and her siblings were imprisoned and secured herself a new start. This dual timeline story covers the events that led up to this escape and the immediate aftermath, alongside a present timeline where Lex, a lawyer, is still coming to terms with her past and dealing with her mother’s death. 

It’s a compelling and absorbing read that I found difficult to put down. It’s not easy to read about the harrowing experience of the children, but they are always just detailed enough without becoming voyeuristic. Lex seems a strong character, though the damage is clearly seen. I didn’t feel the other siblings were quite as carefully constructed and I felt they were missing some of Lex’s realism. 

This is a well written book where the storyline gets under your skin and makes you want to keep reading. You so badly want happy endings for everyone, even when you can see it’s not likely. I will look for more books by this author! Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my copy of this book.
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