I was very excited to receive a copy of Girl A. It was publicized as one of the most anticipated this year, so I had fairly high expectations from the start. It’s a remarkable book and a difficult book. Remarkable, because I read it in such a short timeframe which for me means the writing flowed, the premise kept me engaged and the characters were lifelike in their struggles. Difficult because of the subject of child poverty, abuse and mental illness. The upside is, it’s a tale of escape and empowerment.
*THE INSTANT NO. 2 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER*
THE BOOK THAT WILL DEFINE A DECADE
‘Haunting, powerful, with a pitch-perfect ending’ THE NEW YORK TIMES
‘Sensational. Gripping, haunting, and beautifully written’ RICHARD OSMAN
‘The biggest mystery thriller since Gone Girl’ ELLE
‘Incendiary, beautifully written debut’ Guardian
‘Psychologically astute, adroitly organised, written with flair’ Sunday Times
‘An astonishing achievement.’ JESSIE BURTON
‘Gripping, beautifully written perfection.’ SOPHIE HANNAH
‘A masterpiece.’ LOUISE O’NEILL
‘Fantastic.’ PAULA HAWKINS
‘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.
RIGHTS SOLD IN 29 TERRITORIES
SOON TO BE A TV SHOW DIRECTED BY JOHAN RENCK (Chernobyl)
‘Terrifyingly gripping’ SUSIE STEINER
‘Beautiful’ ADELE PARKS
‘Incredibly well written, devastating in a good way, and intriguing to the last page’ LIZ NUGENT
‘I was obsessed by it. As close to perfect as thrillers get’ JOHN MARRS
‘A gripping debut’ Oprah magazine
One of Marie Claire, Waterstones and Grazia’s best books for 2021
Told in two timeframes: Lexy now, trying to escape the media storm of the past. She is the eldest child in the Gracie family and executor of the will. After her mother dies in prison, the house is left to her and her siblings, forcing a return to Moor Wood Road. Faced with her siblings now, all of whom were adopted out, it’s time to unpack their separate journeys and past traumas. As the two timelines begin to merge, Lexy is determined to turn the house into something good.
Then there’s Lexy as a child, whose chilling experience in what the press hypes as a house of horrors is a deeply layered excavation of the past. I was chilled to the bone with ‘binding days’ and a wasteland of neglect between the beds dubbed The Territory. You can smell rot and you can see skin ingrained with filth that would take several scrubs to put to rights. Flashbacks of early memories are painful to read – the slow decline into degradation and a mother powerless to stop the violence and the unnatural isolation of hungry children chained to beds. This, and the undertones of an obsessive father caught up in a chaotic and cult-type faith, will be hard for some readers. The book will have triggers, so check the comps (My Dark Vanessa being one).
At the start of the book, Lexy is a little disengaged, which is correct for a child in such an abusive environment. Tormented day and night and desperate to protect her sister, Evie, she understands there is no one to save them unless she escapes. Her plan is meticulous and cleverly executed and the author did a fantastic job of capturing the mood. My adrenalin spiraled out of control at this point.
I understand this book is based on a similar case set in a different location, but none of that detracted from the story itself. Masterful writing coupled with the need for survival had me gripped. It gave me the shivers in places and a few tears now and then. It’s one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.
Thank you Netgalley, the author, Abigail Dean, and Harper Collins UK – HarperFiction for the privilege of reading this book.
About the Author:
Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took summer 2018 off to work on her debut novel, Girl A, ahead of her thirtieth birthday. She now works as a lawyer for Google, and is currently writing her second novel, The Conspiracies.
Girl A sold in the UK after a 9-way auction, and also sold at auction in the US. The novel has since been acquired in 27 other territories, and television/film rights have sold to Sony. Johan Renck, director of Chernobyl, is attached to work on the television adaptation of Girl A.
Abigail has always loved reading, writing, and talking about books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AbigailSDean.