Girl A by Abigail Dean: A Completely Spoiler-Free Review 2022
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So far, 2022 has become an extremely good reading year, and here we are officially half way through June. In fact, without wanting to spoil my 2022 Half Way Through The Year catch up post for next month, I’m over half way towards achieving my reading challenge for the year! And so I decided there was no better way to celebrate getting myself back into blogging than to share my first read of 2022 – Girl A by Abigail Dean! Have you read it yet?
Girl A was a Christmas present from Mum and Dad, and Mum admitted she would be interested in reading it after me. I looked at the cover (bad Katie, I know I shouldn’t judge it but…) and was intrigued. That was the only word I could think of. The Sunday Times Bestseller, and yet I’d heard nothing about it. The blurb of Girl A, which we’ll come to below, didn’t give too much away. So I decided to wait until I had a reasonable amount of time to sink my teeth into Girl A.
Girl A: The Blurb
“‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’
I am Lex Grace: but they call me Girl A. I grew up with my family on the moors. I escaped when I was fifteen years old.
Now something is pulling me back…
About The Author
Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took summer 2018 off to work on Girl A ahead of her thirtieth birthday. She now works as a lawyer for Google, and is writing her second novel.
Sometimes reading a blurb isn’t enough, you need to know more about a book. That was certainly the case for me with Girl A. I wasn’t overly gripped by the blurb, but I can certainly say it intrigued me. I love this style of plot when it’s a drama or a film, and have always followed stories in the news that are similar to this. But my lack of enthusiasm needn’t have been there – I became addicted!
Girl A In My Own Words
Lex is struggling. Not with the death of her birth mother. Nor with the insane workload she has to contend with, even while abroad to deal with the aforementioned death. No, Lex is struggling with the trauma of a childhood she would rather forget. Having lived a relatively normal life with her religious father, ‘normal’ mother, and her siblings, Lex found her life turned upside down. Not overnight, but rather over the course of days, weeks, months. Her once happy childhood home became the House of Horrors in Hollowfield, where she finally escaped from aged 15.
Since her birth mother’s death, Lex has discovered she has been appointed Executor of the will, and has to decide what to do with their family home. With an idea in her head, Lex is advised to get the signatures and permission of her siblings, distributed around the UK, leading to the surfacing of memories of those early years.
Each chapter of the book is named after Lex (Girl A) and her respective siblings. As we move from one chapter to the next, the reader learns more about Lex’s relationship with each sibling prior to the “Binding Period” and their consequent relationship after their freedom. This was one of the first aspects of Girl A to have me considering moving this book into my DNF (did not finish) pile.
The chapters were long. And it felt like every other paragraph was a flashback. Often without warning, the narration jumps backwards and forwards in time. A popular style of writing novels and dramas now I know, but distracting all the same when trying to discover who’s who amongst your characters. At page 5, I contemplated putting it aside and moving on with another book. However, my reading rule is to complete a chapter before moving a book to the DNF pile. That’s where Girl A won me over – by the time I had finished Chapter 1: Girl A (Lex), I was gripped and needed to read more! So definitely my advice is stick with it.
Throughout the book, Girl A (Lex) remains a little bit of a wooden character. It made it hard to warm to her in the initial pages. But as the back story of Girl A unfolds, I found myself forgiving Abigail Dean for creating a female protagonist I couldn’t overly warm to. Dean’s writing of Girl A could even be considered an intentional ploy to keep you reading as you devour more of the book trying to understand a little bit more of why Lex is so cold and closed off. I would have liked to see a little bit more insight into her as a person though, as even her childhood memories and flashbacks kept her as a fairly bland character. And really there’s nothing I hate more than a bland female protagonist.
That being said, the story itself is interesting enough to carry Girl A and the other characters, and, as I said earlier, once the plot started picking up and I started learning more and more about the family and their background, I found it easy to get caught up in the story. Almost too easy… It ended up being a very quick read for me!
Overall, Girl A is a well written, original, interesting story and while not exactly a “pleasant” read, it definitely left me sitting there with a lot to think about afterwards. A very clever novel in my opinion.
Where You Can Buy Girl A
So you might be thinking “hmm, I quite like the sound of this book. But where can I buy it?”… The answer is pretty much anywhere you normally buy your books from! If you enjoy supporting physical bookstores, Waterstones may be your best place to start. Alternatively, if you’re looking to either save money or buy in a non-physical format then Amazon is the place to head to in my opinion. There’s the Kindle version of Girl A and it’s also available as an audiobook from Audible. Both of these are services I swear by, but if you know of another one I haven’t mentioned then let me know! Finally, you can always check to see if your local library has a copy of Girl A either in paperback or on their e-book lending system.
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