If you enjoy roaring who did what at the screen during Criminal Minds, then you’ll love ‘Girl A’ by Abigail Dean.
Trigger warning: this book contains descriptions of physical and emotional child abuse, neglect, and violence.
This much-hyped crime thriller hit the stands just after Christmas and had everyone talking. I can vouch for it being an addictive page turner.
Prompted by the death of her incarcerated mother, successful lawyer Lex Gracie, is forced to revisit her childhood home, where she and her siblings endured years of physical and emotional torture at the hands of their parents. For many of Lex’s generation and older, her family’s House of Horrors evokes memories of news reports bursting with scandal and tragedy.
Jumping from the past to the present, we witness Lex navigate her traumatic experience, her dramatic escape, recovery, and the deep-rooted psychological impact of trauma.
The novel is as much about survival as it is about abuse. The flashbacks to Lex’s past are heartbreaking and upsetting but Dean never resorts to torture porn.
Dean doesn’t shy away from examining the darker side of what should be a happily-ever-after success story and this is what makes ‘Girl A’ stand apart from the many other books out there covering similar stories.
Each sibling’s circumstances and behaviour are scrutinised. How did they survive the house? What impact does their past have on their current relationships, their career, their public persona? Why do the siblings interact with each other, or not, the way they do? Is is all down to what happened during their childhood?
Dean also takes time to craft the family’s slow descent into madness – answering the frequently asked question, but how could this happen? Right under our noses?
I can’t say I enjoyed reading ‘Girl A’, I found it grim, upsetting and a tough read at times. However, I can say that Dean weaves a compelling and solid story. I don’t doubt there is further commercial and critical success in her future.