You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.
You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.
You think your children are safe.
But are they really?
Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best.
We’re thrown into The Girls at quite a pace, as young Pip finds her sister Grace, unconscious in the communal garden where they live. We then spool back in time to when Pip and Grace and their mother Clare first move to Virginia Terrace, and the big build up to the event. It was quite nice to go back in time and see it all build, see the friendships building and tensions building between all of the teenagers as Grace gets herself right in on the action, with Pip preferring to stay on the sidelines. It’s very much a character driven novel, with so many people to keep up with, and so many kids (I kept confusing Dylan and Tyler) and forgetting who belonged with whom.
I actually really enjoyed The Girls. It was more of a sedate read than I expected, but it was still enthralling all the same, it still kept me hooked and the whole neighbourhood feel was amazing, except for the weird undertones that it actually wasn’t all a bed of roses, especially with the freaky parallels to Grace’s story and the story of a girl who died many years previous. I truly had no idea who had got Grace into the situation she ended up in, and still now I’m curious exactly what that final chapter told me. Because I feel like it was letting me into a little secret, but there wasn’t enough evidence for a 100% conviction. And I still can’t decide if that’s a good thing, because I LOVE my neat, wrapped-in-a-bow endings. I don’t like questions hanging over a novel, it drives me crazy!
But the book is super compelling. Lisa Jewell is a brilliant storyteller, so, so good at building tension and creating a story that keeps you reading into the small, wee hours. I can’t wait for Lisa’s next read, she’s one of my favourite authors and The Girls was yet another hit; so well written, with some compelling characters and a cracking setting.