The Girls by Lisa Jewell

I thought I’d read every Lisa Jewell book so was very pleased when I realised that her latest publication The Girls had slipped by my radar. I have recently read another Lisa Jewell book and usually, I don’t like to read books by the same author too close together as I find they are a bit ‘samey’ and like to have some variety but with Lisa Jewell’s books there is great variation with the plots, themes and feel of the book- the only thing ‘samey’ about them is that they’re brilliant books!

I was supposed to read this whilst on holiday, but made the mistake of ‘just looking’ at the first page and it resulted in my struggling to put it down for three days until I had devoured it…

The Girls is quite a dark story, which builds slowly as it introduces the various characters and with each page turn leaves you questioning and analysing everyone which makes for a real page turner.

At the beginning of the book, Pip, comes across the body of her sister Grace. She’s found in the same area of the communal garden they share with their neighbours, that another teenage girl was found in many years ago… but what has happened to Grace in this garden they considered safe? Who could have hurt her?

Pip and Grace moved to Virginia Terrace with their mother Clare after their father had a huge psychotic episode and burnt their house down. Clare, feeling overwhelmed and out of place, is grateful that her children seem to be making friends in the communal garden, even if some of them do appear to be quite strange… Adele and Leo bring up their children in a very alternative manner, their girls are homeschooled and they have an open house where other children from the garden are welcome to call in.. including Tyler, a very troubled girl with a very insecure home life and strange scratches down her arms… then there’s Dylan who is supposedly Tyler’s best friend but he is spending more time with Grace than ever and tensions between the three of them are quite clear.

As we get to know the characters’ lives and their backgrounds it builds up a real picture of the days that lead up to Grace being harmed and as we get to know them, there appear to be quite a number of people who may have played a part… was Grace’s father who had been released from hospital behind it? Was he still mentally unwell and struggling to accept that Clare hadn’t invited him back into their lives? Was it Leo, the homeschooled girls’ father who seemed to be a little bit too overly friendly with his daughters’ friends? Could ‘Puppy’ the homeschooled girls’ grandfather who likes to make leering comments about women have something to do with it? What about Tyler who sees Dylan as hers but who now seems to be spending more time with Grace? Who is the young boy with the football who seems to have been the person closest to Grace when Pip found her?

What is brilliant about reading this book is that there are so many different people that it could be… without any seemingly the most obvious. I was kept guessing all the way through and it meant I didn’t want to stop reading and it was quite uncomfortable reading- in the best way possible! I could see how Adele began questioning her own husband and how unsure of her life she suddenly became, her tension around what was happening was really well created, it made me also feel on edge. The tension just kept building throughout as more truths were revealed that lead me to question more people…

I always think that Lisa Jewell creates brilliant characters and this is definitely the case with this book, again. The relationship between them all were really well crafted, the way sisters evolve as they become teenagers and how relationships can become tense when changes occur.

I love it when a book gives me something else to think about rather than the stresses of every day life and this definitely did that. I didn’t want to put this book down, but when I had to, I would be thinking about it, wondering just who was to blame?! It was a very welcome distraction, perfect escapism!

I really like that this book gradually builds up, letting you get to know the characters slowly so you aren’t confused by who everyone is and then before you know it you realise you’re full of tension and not wanting to stop reading!

This is a great read for anyone looking for a story that will leave you turning pages as you want to know what happens, with just enough suspense to make it still feel like a very real book.

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