The Roanoke Girls: Amy Engel
I've been longing to read this book for a while now, having heard so much hype about it. Frankly I'm always intrigued when I hear a lot about a book from lots of different sources, so I was keen to track a copy down and when I downloaded it onto my Kindle last week I couldn't wait to start it.
I'll start with a trigger warning: I think it's fairly obvious, but whilst it doesn't go into any graphic detail, this book is centred on sexual abuse.
Lane is our central character. Finding herself at Roanoke to live with her grandparents after her mother's suicide, she spends a summer with her grandparents and her cousin, Allegra. Allegra fills her in on the family history when she arrives: "Roanoke girls either run or die". And we discover that this family seems to have had more than it's fair share of tragedy.
The summer is hot and the girls bond over local boys and their time helping out their grandparents on the farm. There is a creepy undertone to everything and the central theme is alluded to but never explicitly uncovered.
We follow Lane's story as she is called back to Roanoke eleven years after that summer by her grandfather when her Allegra goes missing in strange circumstances.
The narrative splits between THEN and NOW and is peppered with accounts from some of the other past Roanoke Girls, too. Whilst I know this is a fairly standard method of eking out critical information, it all seems to work nicely and flows together to keep the reader interested.
When it came to the big "reveal", I have to say I was a little disappointed. There's no real twist, and as I say, the book had really been alluding to the truth all the way through. My suspicions were confirmed about the hideousness of the grandmother character, but not of the truth came as a surprise, so things felt a little...flat in the last couple of chapters. That said, I was fairly hooked and read the book in just a couple of hours, so it was well-written in that respect and I don't know how else it really could have ended, so there you are.