Monday, September 19, 2016

The Girl Before by Rena Olsen

I started listening to this book and about a third of the way through I tweeted that while it was a good book, I have sex trafficking/domestic violence/sexual assault combined with the past/present format fatigue. In thrillers specifically. And I understand why so many books like this exist and I understand why it's how stories are told, but sometimes I want to read something that still keeps me turning the pages, but doesn't involved crimes against women of this nature. Also, I feel like the past/present is overused in general if a story is really thrilling it shouldn't always need this format.

However, once I finished the book, I have to say that The Girl Before is actually doing something unique and the past/present format is justified as part of the thematic push of the novel. Clara Lawson's home is raided by FBI agents one day and she is separated from her husband and daughters with the plea from her husband to not say anything. The reader quickly determines that not all was not right in Clara's world, but Clara herself does not see things this way. And through the use of past/present the story unfolds.

But it isn't the "thrilling" part of this book that makes it so worthwhile as it is the psychology of what Clara is going through. As she herself sifts through her past and new present she has to confront many aspects of herself...and the reader does too.

It's hard to feel patience with Clara at times, she is quite stuck in her way of thinking and her own exposure to anything else was limited. But...that helps the reader to confront their own biases and ways of thinking if they are so inclined. Is Clara a victim and only a victim? This is a big question to ask while reading the book.

So, I enjoyed it a lot and I think it's very well written. I did listen to the audiobook and the reader, Brittany Presley, was very good.



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