Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: The Girls in the Garden, by Lisa Jewell

Her girls both nodded and smiled.

Clare felt a brief moment of parental satisfaction - a compromise painlessly reached - before it was overtaken by a wave of nervous energy that went straight through her gut like a storm. Dinner. With strangers. Her daughters finding safe places away from her. Lies to cover up. Secrets to keep. And all the time, as a throbbing, ominous backdrop, her husband, back to health, ready to reenter the world. And possibly turn it upside down.

The Girls in the Garden, formerly just titled The Girls, started at the ending, and then spooled us back in time so we could see the events leading up to it. I liked this technique a lot, and overall this was a book worth reading.

Official synopsis:
Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.

This was a novel that definitely kept me guessing, and a "whodunit" of sorts too. At the beginning of the book, Pip finds her sister, Grace, who has just turned thirteen, unconscious in the garden near where they live. Grace is in a coma, so she can't tell them who knocked her unconscious, and we (the readers) almost have to figure it out ourselves, as the book goes back in time and starts us off from the beginning.

At the beginning, Pip and Grace move to the garden square because their mother, Clare, is essentially a single parent; their father, Chris, who was mentally ill, burned down their former house. Clare is now keeping a secret from the girls, too: their father is actually doing much better and was released from the hospital, but he's been staying with a former colleague of his, who once (and probably still does) had a crush on him.

Pip and Grace are desperate to make friends in the neighborhood, too, so many "suspects" come up that may dislike Grace; a few of the girls in the neighborhood, and even Leo, one of the fathers of the friends, whose rumored to sometimes get a little too close with some of his daughters' friends.

Overall, I liked this book. It took me a while to finish it (a week or a week and a half) so that is maybe why it seemed slow to me, but the story definitely takes a while to unravel itself. I'd recommend this novel to anyone who likes mystery stories, or stories where you're constantly changing your opinion of "whodunit."

3.5 stars out of 5.
{Click here to purchase}

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.


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