by Abigail Dean
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 21 Jan 2021 | Archive Date 21 Sep 2021
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction, HarperCollins
“‘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. If you liked Room, My Dark Vanessa and We Need to Talk About Kevin, you will love this book.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 295 members
Girl A is a gripping and excellently written novel that's dark and edgy as you become absorbed in the main protagonist's journey as she and her sisters find the courage to confront their horrific past and learn the true power of forgiveness and moving on.
Lex Gracie is "Girl A", the name she was given for anonymity after the madness of her family home hit the headlines.....and the title of Abigail Dean's new novel. Along with her brothers and sisters she's treated like a prisoner by parents whose grip on reality,and sanity, quickly deteriorates when her Father's dreams of sharing his beliefs with the general public in his own chapel , a converted shop, fail miserably.. With a ,literally, captive audience the obsessed wannabe preacher runs his household like a cult with the children enduring violence, lack of food and eventually being changed to their beds and totally isolated from the world outside. Lex eventually escapes and there is a media storm when what has happens in the house becomes public knowledge. Several years later Lex's Mother dies and and she finds she's been made the executor of the will,some money and the House. With an idea in mind she tracks down her siblings to get them to agree to her plan. The book uses this to tell the story of each of the children from their time in the house until the present......and their massively different personalities and how they coped with the past. The tale is told in flashbacks ,which is very effective, and from rather a pedestrian beginning as more of the children's ordeal is revealed and from different perspectives it becomes a gripping and tangled tale with some profiting from their experiences, others determinedly staying anonymous and some very complicated relationships and convenient memories.. This is an amazing piece of writing, as the book progresses the initially rather 2 dimensional Lex becomes a believable,if complicated and flawed, person and we see how her ordeal,as with her equally well-characterised siblings, has made her the person she is. Not all are as they initially seem,neither are their memories. The ending is a bit different but ultimately satisfactory, in conclusion a great read. Thanks to Abigail Dean, HarperCollins UK and Netgalley for the ARC in return for and honest review.
Lex and her siblings grew up in her parents house of horrors, she managed to escape and was known as “Child A the girl who survived” When Lex’s mother dies in prison, she is asked to be the executor of her mother’s will, as she has left her their childhood home and £20,000 to be shared between her siblings. Along with her sister Evie’s help, she wants to turn the house into something good but will need to get her other siblings to agree. Lex has to face the childhood that she had left behind and meet up with her family, bringing all the bad memories back. The book goes back to when they were children and how they were badly treated by their parents. I must admit to crying, as this felt so real and you do read about cases like this in the newspapers!! This had me gripped from the start, you can’t help but be drawn in with this beautifully written story about survival against all odds. This is going to be a must read book of 2021. Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
Ask anyone about the house on Moor Woods Road, and they'll be able to tell you the story: seven children, raised in a house of horror by parents whose reign only ended when Girl A, Lex, was brave enough to escape. Years later, and Lex has done everything she can to put her childhood behind her. But everything changes when her mother dies in prison, and names Lex as the executor of her will. Now, Lex must face up to the trauma of her past, and finally come to terms with what happened all those years ago... The synopsis of this book on NetGalley states 'If you liked Room, My Dark Vanessa and We Need to Talk About Kevin, you will love this book.' Now, these are three of my favourite books, so I definitely went into this one with high hopes, and fortunately I wasn't disappointed! I will say that at the start, it does take a while to really connect with Lex. At times, she felt a bit stiff and wooden, but as the novel progresses you realise that this closed off nature is due to the intense trauma she faced as a child, and she develops into more of a well-rounded, sympathetic character. Her present life isn't really the focus of the book, so it does take a while to really get to grips with her, but I found her to be a great choice of narrator, with a very true and authentic voice. A real strength of this book is the flashbacks, and I love the way the storyline alternated between now and the past. While I did enjoy the present day sections, I was completely gripped by the flashbacks, and the chilling way they showed how a seemingly normal family descended into evil. The author also did very well in creating scenes that, while disturbing, never felt gratuitous. Now I assume I'm right in thinking that this book is at least partly inspired by a similar true story that occurred in America last year, but this book differentiates itself from this by basing the story in England. I personally found that this worked really well, as not only did it make it more unique but it also made it feel a lot more chilling to an English audience, making it feel like something that really could happen in any street in any town. I've often questioned how real cases like this could occur, but reading this really showed how easy it is for such situations to occur, and for families to slip through the gaps in the blink of an eye. All in all, I found this to be a great read, really gripping and one that is very difficult to put down - you keep telling yourself 'just one more section' until suddenly it's the early hours of the morning! I would definitely recommend this, especially to fans of psychological thrillers with a dark and disturbing twist. Disclaimer - I was fortunate enough to receive an advance reading copy from NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
Beautifully written, cleverly plotted and pacey – it's the first book that's caught and sustained my attention during lockdown, and the first book in ages that I want to push onto everyone I speak to.
Loved this story. Obviously very clearly based upon the recent events in America last year, where another family were found guilty of tying their children to their beds and starving them until one of the girls managed to escape. However, there are a few changes, it's set in the UK, there aren't quite as many children and there are definitely twists in the story - that may or may not have happened in the real life story. It does make you think. And this tells it from the perspective of the adult Girl A. There's a lot of twists and turns and I really enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. It doesn't give you a happy ending but I suppose that's true of the real story as well.
One of my anticipated reads. I actually did a little happy dance when I had the email from @netgalley last night to say it was in here. This hasn’t disappointed and I have devoured this in just one sitting. This has been a dark read which has considered a family who grew up in a “house of horrors” This author has pulled me in from the beginning and I have loved it. This is a great read, out January 2021. I highly recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book is one you won't be able to put down or forget. Similar to 'room' and 'we need to talk about kevin' I was excited to read this book. It is based on Lex and her siblings and their life they had living in her parents ’ House of Horrors before Lex escaped . After her mother dies in prison,and leaves the house to Lex and her siblings they have to finally face what happened to them and she has to eventually come to terms the horrors they all experienced.. Along with her sister Evie, she wants to turn the house into good and this can't be achieved before coming to terms with all that happened.
‘Girl A’ is the story of Lex Gracie and the infamous House of Horrors where she and her siblings grew up. The remote and hidden world of Moor Wood Road where her parents inflicted cruelty and callous treatments upon their children is described in so much intricate detail and juxtaposed so dramatically to the exciting places Lex travels to in her adult life; but years on Lex is pulled backwards after her mother dies in prison leaving her the executor of the children’s inheritance. This book was so wonderfully written as you are taken back and forth between the sibling’s past and present with Lex as the guide. As the eldest girl of the Gracie family she always felt the need to care for her younger siblings and drew upon unknown strength to escape and rescue them all of those years ago. Now she must face them all and their realities of their past traumas. This novel is quite lengthy but rightly so because every word is necessary to build such a realistic set of characters so you understand all of the layers of their stories. The importance is placed upon the children and their individual journeys of survival: this novel takes the opportunity to go far deeper than the news surface headline of ‘Girl A’. An amazing debut novel that I couldn’t and didn’t want to put down.
Really gripping - I enjoyed the story so much. I thought it was fast-paced and engaging, struggled to put it down most of the time! Ending was great too. I would definitely recommend this novel. Thanks so much for sharing this review copy.
Wow, wow, wow. What a book! When Lexie and her siblings are left the family home after their mother dies, we are taken on a journey of what happened din the house of horrors where they grew up. So well written, with even the hardest images of the abuse suffered by Child A and her siblings, told poetically and sensitively. Highly recommended. Thanks to Netgalley and Abigail Dean for the chance to read GIRL A and review.
This is a long drawn out story with a lot of characters to get your head around. Their are a lot of flashbacks which can be confusing at times and hard to follow. It's based on a true story and it's beautifully written. Once you realise who all the characters are the story flows along nicely. Personally I prefer the flashbacks, which give you a deeper understanding of what Girl A-Lex and her siblings went through. It's harrowing, evil, sick and it gave me the shivers in places. It's a heartbreaking read and very sad in parts especially the ending, so have plenty of tissues on hand. Don't be disheartened by the length and all the characters, because it all comes to a great, but sad and happy conclusion. It's a brilliant debut and I'm looking forward to see what Abigail Dean writes next.
Full of twists and turns this look at the aftermath of a family trauma is shocking, and fully engaging. Well written and keeps you wanting more I fully recommend.
This is one of those books that stays with you long, long after you reach the final page - and will definitely be one of the must-read novels of 2021. Lex Gracie and her siblings grew up in their parents' house of horrors. After managing to escape, Lex became known as 'Girl A', "the one who survived. After their mother dies in prison, Lex is called in to be the executor of her will - and finds that she and her siblings have been left with £20,000 and their childhood home. Lex is determined to turn the house into something good and, with the help of her sister Evie, sets out to see her siblings and convince them that they should agree. Alternating between Lex's journey to get her siblings on-side and their childhood, Girl A draws readers in from the very first page - and it doesn't let go until the very end.
Beautifully written and elegantly structured, Girl A is being touted as 'the book that will define a decade'. The story follows Lex Gracie, known as 'Girl A', who escaped abuse at the hands of her parents as a teenager, held captive inside their family home known in the press as 'The House of Horrors'. After the death of her mother, Lex must revisit what happened to her and her siblings. I really must take my hat off to Abigail Dean's prose. It's gorgeous. So many turns of phrase I adored; dissonant details, choice words. The story moves expertly between the past timeline (the abuse in the house) and the present, where the grown-up Lex must navigate the adult world and return to what happened to her. I loved the cuts between timelines, which kept me turning pages to find out what happened (why, exactly, did the father introduce 'Binding Days'?). The abuse is handled delicately, without too much detail, which I appreciated from one point of view (being able to stomach it, for one...), though what precisely happened to the siblings does remain opaque by the end, which I didn't entirely expect. Instead I found horror in the small things; The Territory between Lex and her sister Evie's bed is a wasteland of rotting trash, which screams 'neglect' more loudly than some of the characterisation and explanation does. It's chilling. If I have one criticism it's that Lex stays relatively static for me, as our narrator. She is unknowable, and not given a huge transformation in the narrative. I expected a big showdown at the end; it didn't come. And maybe that's more sophisticated, more classy, the change in Lex internal. There is a small twist, which was incredibly satisfying to guess correctly and I anticipate book clubs will love crowing about that next year! But overall Girl A hews more closely to the characters, eschewing multiple thriller tropes and focusing, instead, on excavating the past. I'd describe Girl A as MY DARK VANESSA meets FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an early copy, I really enjoyed it and read the whole thing within a day.
This is a tough read but an incredibly interesting one. What starts out as a simple story of children escaping from a bad upbringing becomes something infinitely more heart rending and complex. It raises so many questions which are not easily answered the main one being why didn't they simply tell? The answer is painfully sad and subtle as we follow Lex dealing with her siblings after the death of their remaining parent. Highly recommended.
Wow! This really took my breath away. Abigail Dean's writing is sublime and I can't believe that this is a debut novel. "Girl A" is a complex and deeply emotional read. Some parts of Lex's narrative left me drained and exhausted. It's not an easy read though I would say it's an extremely worthwhile one. I particularly enjoyed the themes of hope, resilience and triumph over unimaginable adversity. Incredible!
This is an incredibly powerful book, full of intense honesty. I think the author has done an amazing job of capturing the life long scars that people subject to abuse in childhood carry with them for all time, how these scars are different for everyone and the coping mechanisms are different. I love how when difficult questions are asked, the answers aren't twee or wrapped in fluff. The characters are superbly written and even though you don't like all of them you can understand them. The ending is both perfect and a punch in the guts. This wasn't an easy book to read and I imagine it wasn't an easy book to write. The research into getting the psychology of everyone involved right must have been heartbreaking. It's prompted me to volunteer with Action For Kids and I really hope it inspires others to do something similar.
At first I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this book! But very quickly became engaged! Terrifying story! But also a tale of survival, sibling rivalry, and the strength of the human spirit! I couldn’t put it down and had to find out how it ended! A really wonderfully well written book! Loved it!!
This was absolutely gripping - one of the best thrillers I've read in years. The 'survivor of an abusive home/cult' genre is really packed, but this stands out! It felt very fresh and modern, with a contemporary and well-written voice. My only critique is that I would've liked it to be even longer and for a certain character to face up to their past actions...
#GirlA #NetGalley Addictive and Twisty. Most compelling read of 2021. Highly recommended. You don't know me. I'm Girl A. I was gripped by this line and finished this book in one sitting. It's twisty, addictive and emotional at the same time. Love, betrayal are at the heart of this book. Abigail Dean's writing is such a perfection that this book is going to be a TV show. I see why. I loved it so much. I loved the character of Lex. She portray the character of a girl who's strong from heart. Go for it. Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK Harper Fiction for giving me an advance copy of this awesome book.
Date reviewed: September 10, 2020 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. And it is way too hot to go outside, so why not sit in from of the blasting a/c and read and review books?? I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. “‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’” #GirlA 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. If you liked Room, My Dark Vanessa and We Need to Talk About Kevin, you will love this book. Oh, what a spooky and gripping read - Lex is a strong woman after what she went through in that literal house of horrors. The book is well crafted and utterly engrossing as we go along on Lex and the demons she has to face along with her siblings. My North American side kept thinking of Lexie Grey from "Grey's Anatomy" as the name Lex Gracie was too close but that is how my brain works....yours probably won't...). Definitely worth a read - I luckily do not have to wait until 2021 to read it but do be prepared for some challenging parts while reading as there is some pretty serious abuse within this book. NOTE: THERE ARE "SEVERAL" REVIEWS ON GOODREADS AS I CANNOT GET THE BOOK TO COMBINE.
This is an incredibly powerful book, full of intense honesty. I think the author has done an amazing job of capturing the life long scars that people subject to abuse in childhood carry with them for all time, how these scars are different for everyone and the coping mechanisms are different. The characters are superbly written and even though you don't like all of them you can understand them.
Girl A, Lex, is one of several siblings brought up in increasingly distressing circumstances, by their religious fanatic father and mother. The story jumps about from the present day to Lex's childhood. Each chapter focuses on the experiences of a different sibling, told from Lex's point of view, as she catches up with them in the present and recalls their childhood together. The descriptions of violence and abuse in this book are harrowing and at times, graphic, but this is cleverly delivered in small chunks, so that it doesn't become too overwhelming. Returning to and from the present day reminds you that there were survivors of this horrific treatment. I thought this was a fascinating book and I will keep an eye out for the author's future work.
Girl A is a truly extraordinary novel, and one I enjoyed immensely, despite its subject matter. It's the story of Lex Gracie, the Girl A of the title, who suffered horrendous abuse as a child in a notorious House of Horrors. Recounting her life, years later as a successful adult, the reader is taken back on a journey into the past that is both harrowing but also redemptive, and above all very moving. The novel raises all sorts of questions about trauma, and memories, abuse, our toxic media, and some people's insatiable, bloodthirsty lust to witness other's sufferings. This novel will stay with me for a very long time.
A glorious book, I think it might be my book of 2021 and its still 2020! This is much more than a domestic thriller and I was gripped throughout. I would highly recommend.
It’s hard to believe Girl A is a first novel, the beautifully constructed plot flows like the writing of a much more experienced author. Lexie is Girl A, the notorious one that got away. The one who forced her hands through the chains her father used to tie his children to their beds, jumped from a first floor window and ran into the path of a car to save both herself and her brothers and sisters before they starved to death. The story of Lexie and her siblings is told in flashbacks as she tracks down each one after the death of their mother in prison to put their inheritance to good use. It should be the kind of story you want to read with your hands over your eyes but somehow in Lexie’s compelling, slightly distant narration, it never feels as if this is something you shouldn’t be reading. Instead I savoured every word. The only thing I didn’t like about it was Lexie’ asking her boyfriends to hurt her, which seems to be becoming a common theme in both fiction and the law courts and needs to be handled carefully to help save the lives of young women. This book will stay with me for a long time and one that I will be gifting to a lot of people. Thank you HarperCollins and Netgalley for giving me access to this title in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Harper Fiction for the arc of Girl A by Abigail Dean. 5 star read for me- This is a great read, a quick one for me, I loved this so much, very gripping read, recommend to all, such a great read for me, i enjoyed it very much you won't be disappointed. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
TRIGGER WARNING abuse, neglect, captivity Wow. I had this book for a few weeks before I jumped into it, and finished it in 4 sittings. It was not what I was expecting, I knew it was going to be hard to read, but it was a very deeply sad story. It ends completely different to what I expected. It moves between now, which is quite a while since their childhood, and the past. The whole story is told from Lex’s point of view, and each chapter focuses on her speaking to or visiting one of her siblings. There is a big difference between all the siblings and how they are living their lives. They are all grown up now and have moved on, living with different families, separated from each other in different ways. But I liked getting to see where they all were, what and how they were doing. The past was hard at times to read, sad and dark a lot of the time. But there were times where it shows you love, and protection, which gives you hope. The end had me in tears and I thought about it for a long time after. I finished this book about 4 days ago now and it’s still in my head. It’s out January 21st 2021 and it’s definitely one to watch!
Tissues are a must with this read, I literally felt heartbroken to discover what these poor children had gone through. I like how the book is written, before and now, it gives a really good background in what happened before and how Lex is now. It is a very powerful read of love and horror that I will never be able to forget, you never know if a child right now is suffering like these children had to. You can never imagine what they went through, and you probably wouldn't want to but seeing the woman Lex is today makes me proud of her and what she has gone through. The fact that this book is a debut is incredible, I cannot wait for Abigail the author's next book. A book has never hot me so hard and it will stay with me for a long time.
I've heard so much about this book and it is still a few months from publication - that always bodes well; especially as it is a debut novel. The story is not an easy one to read; Lex is Girl A, the survivor of years of abuse at the hands of her parents. The structure of the novel means that this tale, which is sadly not a new one, is told in an interesting way. We start with Lex going to prison to deal with her mother's belongings and Will. In the Will she is left twenty thousand pounds and the home that she was essentially imprisoned in. The rest of the novel is told by following the stories of each of the other 6 siblings (but still through Lex's narrative) and it explores the dynamic between each of the siblings. They were all adopted into different homes and their lives have followed very different trajectories. Throughout the book, we flash back to their childhoods and find out how their home environment descended into the horror that it became. The characters are incredibly well developed and I couldn't stop thinking about them when I put the book down. This is a character driven exploration of family and abuse and it is incredibly well written; if hard to read in parts. Thanks to Harper Collins and Netgalley for the eARC of this debut.
Girl A is a dark and compelling story exploring abuse and the lasting effects it has on someone after escaping. Lex Gracie grew up with her siblings in what the world now knows as The House of Horrors. She was Girl A in the child abuse case. Now her mother died in prison and left the family home to Lex and her siblings. Can Lex face her past? Will Lex and her siblings be able to move forward? Abigail Dean's writing is beautiful and emotional. I look forward to seeing more from Dean in the future. It's shocking this is only her debut. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy well-written dark stories.
Girl A ties with My Dark Vanessa as the best novel I've read in 2020. Both offer a dramatically different portrayal of survivors of abuse and the impact on a person's life afterwards. I liked Girl A because it didn't focus or glamorise the abuse, it didn't feel like another misery porn novel but really forces the reader to think about how much we really see, when we see people. How little we can know about what's happening behind closed doors and how doing nothing is in some situations, a form of abuse - particular the mother in this case. It is an unbelievably upsetting book to read but most of that is because of what is not said or seen, but what our minds fill in, how we can empathise about how we might feel, being in those situations and how upsetting it is to contemplate such horrors being done to children. It made me think a lot about how people fall through the gaps and are vulnerable to others who prey on the vulnerabilities of those people. And also about recovery - and how that's not linear but more cyclical and multi branched. And sometimes we lie to ourselves because the truth is too awful to contemplate. This novel broke my heart and I can't wait to read something else by Abigail Dean
Girl A was the brave one, the clever one, the one most likely to survive. We follow her, as an adult, as she navigates the new landscape created by the death of her mother. Told in a compelling combination of present and past, we gradually meet the other siblings and hear something of their story. The complexities of guilt, survival and forgiveness are explored without undue authorial voice - each character is presented to us as a real person with no overtones of sainthood or pathos, rather they are all survivors who have done what they need to do to survive. It is difficult to describe this book. It isn’t a thriller, although the feeling that something, some revelation, is coming is always there. It isn’t crime, although crimes are certainly committed. It isn’t a ghoulish exposition of abuse, although the abuse is not glossed over. What is is, is utterly compelling. The writing is beautiful, intimate, and fascinating. I can genuinely say that I could not put this book down - thank goodness I started it on a Saturday because I couldn’t go to bed until I’d finished it. An incredible book.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC. Wow, this book is heartbreaking, harrowing and hopeful all at once. The twist at the end was set up but I definitely didn't see it coming and it packs a major punch. To achieve any semblance of normality after a childhood like that is laudable and Dean explores the effort it takes to recover from such a trauma. A book that will stay with you.
What a debut Girl A is. There has been a lot of buzz about this book and rightfully so. It is at times harrowing as we get to know all the details that lead to the children being imprisoned in their own home and their eventual escape. The most skilful parts of the book are when we learn of the emotional scars that remain as each child tries to leave the past behind. Highly recommended.
Such an interesting story! I was hooked from the first page. We follow Lex Gracie as she finds her siblings to turn their old house into something good for the community. We see the horrors and traumatic events that happened to the Gracie family under their father's control. Each chapter gives us insight into each sibling and we see how these terrible events has impacted them as adults. It is an intense but breathtaking story and we explore how this abuse and childhood trauma affected each individual Gracie child. Dean does a fantastic job taking us through the journey of Girl A (Lex), the survivor. The one who escaped. Her writing is fantastic! Throughout the novel, we travel between past and present but it flows beautifully and isnt disjointed. Terrible things happened to the Gracie kids but its amazing how sometimes good can from the bad. Brilliant book! Couldn't put it down! Its out in Jan 2021 and its a must read in 2021! 5/5 Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK for an ARC in exchange for a honest review.
A dark and compelling read, that has excellent character development and is, at times, heartbreaking. This story moves seamlessly back and forward from the time when seven young children are growing up in their abusive family home to them seen 15 years later. One of the siblings Alexandra Gracie (Lex) wants to use the inheritance from the parents estate to turn their old 'house of horrors' into a centre that can benefit the community. This means she will need to be back in touch with her siblings for their approval - bringing to the surface those demons of the past that she thought she had left behind. This is a superb, if uncomfortable, read that will stay with you for a long time. Highly recommended. Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK, HarperFiction for my early read.
To say that I ‘enjoyed’ this book would be disingenuous. It is not a story to be enjoyed. It is sad, horrific and touching. It’s a hard and brutal read at times. Having said that it is brilliantly written – the language is exquisite – but I found it very stressful to read. I was constantly dreading what ‘Father’ might do next. Would there be no light in the darkness? If you live near me in Gloucestershire you will no doubt remember the story of ‘Britain’s most sadistic mother’ – Eunice Spry – and the three foster children who she starved, beat, tried to drown, shoved sticks and knives down their throats and made them eat their own vomit. They were ‘tortured in the name of God.’ I met one of them in 2014. What a lovely person – I hope he has a better life than the Gracie children. Spry was jailed in 2005, after being convicted of 26 counts of child abuse. She was sentenced to 14 years, but only served seven and was released in 2014. Who would sympathise or forgive her? So why would anyone forgive Lex’s mother? I was annoyed that Bill expected Lex to visit and try to understand. At one point he says that Mother suffered too but obviously not enough to keep her out of prison. But back to the story. I don’t understand why the children were separated after they escaped and advised not to find each other. They were each placed with a different family and treated by different doctors and psychiatrists in different ways. They had no contact with each other for years. I am not an expert so I am sure there was a good reason but it felt like something from the 1950s. Keep them apart for their own good. Initially I wasn’t too keen. It’s all a bit depressing with no resolution in sight. How could there be? Lex is quite hard to like initially, as is Ethan. But just over half way through I became more and more engrossed until I really couldn’t put it down. It’s written from Lex’s point of view, even the stories that involve the others. Most of it is about now – Mother has died and left Lex and her siblings the house and £20,000 which Lex wants to use to build a Community Centre. But she must get the others to sign an agreement and therefore has to contact them one by one. The story of their childhood is told in flashbacks. Mother forever pregnant, Father unsuccessful in all his ventures, descending further into madness. The children moved and then home-schooled, eventually bound, chained and starved. I read till well past midnight, leaving only the last few pages so I wouldn’t wake up having totally forgotten what I had been reading. I kept thinking of Eunice Spry’s children and hope they have fared better. I pray they are happy. Many thanks to #NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to Netgalley, HarperCollins UK and Abigail Dean for the opportunity to read this ARC in return for my honest review. Raw, disturbing and gut-wrenching, this book is a devastatingly brilliant read. I was genuinely holding my breath in parts. This book absolutely deserves its hype. Bound to be a massive hit.
One of the best books I have read this year. The writer has a way of painting the story in a very understated way, not for shocks, but the subject matter and the way it is plotting utterly urges you to read more. A very interesting story indeed, and I would have liked to see the main character confront a person in particular, but I won't spoil it for you. Well worth your time! I read this through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.