Title: Girl A
Author: Abigail Dean
‘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.
Girl A is a powerful and dark story about Lex, who survived horrific child abuse by her parents and is dealing with it as an adult when she has to return to the house along with her siblings.
There’s a lot of layers in this story which draws the reader in – we have her complex relationship with her brothers and sisters, as well as her experiences after escaping and going into care. We learn more about the effects of their awful childhood on each sibling – and learn that not everyone had the same kind of experience.
We jump between timelines, returning to Lex’s childhood as she tries her best to survive, and there are so many moments when I felt so desperately sorry for her. It really drives home the way that, should a parent choose to behave in a certain way towards their children, it can take a worryingly long time for anyone to realise just how badly wrong it’s gone.
The writing is addictive and the story flows really well as we uncover surprises. I may not have picked up on all the hints but I really enjoyed the realisation that some parts were not quite as they seemed.
The novel is laced through with an unsettling undercurrent of Lex never feeling quite free of her past, and there were characters in it that I really hated. There’s definitely parts that are hard to read but that’s to be expected given the theme. It’s a long book but one that grabbed me.
A powerful debut and I’m looking forward to whatever comes next from this author.
Girl A is out in ebook and hardback formats on 21st January.
FURTHER READING – I enjoyed this blog post about the editing process, as a discussion between Abigail Dean and her editor Phoebe Morgan (who is also a published author!)
Many thanks to HarperCollins UK for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.