Featured Review: The Good Girls (Claire Eliza Bartlett)
About This Book:
One of Us Is Lying meets Sadie in this twisty, feminist thriller for the Me Too era.
The troublemaker. The overachiever. The cheer captain. The dead girl. Like every high school in America, Jefferson-Lorne High contains all of the above.
After the shocking murder of senior Emma Baines, three of her classmates are at the top of the suspect list: Claude, the notorious partier; Avery, the head cheerleader; and Gwen, the would-be valedictorian.
But appearances are never what they seem. And the truth behind what really happened to Emma may just be lying in plain sight. As long buried secrets come to light, the clock is ticking to find Emma's killer—before another good girl goes down.
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
THE GOOD GIRLS is an enthralling read. The book begins after the disappearance and seeming murder of the police chief's daughter who is a senior in high school, Emma. What follows is the accounts provided by three girls whose lives were adjacent to Emma's in some ways and who seem to be suspects in her murder - particularly since the video surfaced of her being pushed into Anna's Run, a river notorious for its current and inability for people who fall in to survive.
As we read each of the girl's accounts, interspersed by narratives and passages from Emma's diary, we begin to see a different picture of their lives and how they connected with Emma. Claude is the seeming "bad" girl, who is frequently shamed for her behavior and relationships with boys, but hers and the others' stories are more complex than they seem on the surface. Gwen is the academic competing with Emma to win a prestigious scholarship that would allow the winner to leave the poverty-stricken town to go to college away. Avery is a cheerleader along with Emma.
This was a highly compelling read, and I definitely moved through it quickly. While I did guess some of the twists, I did not put all of it together, and I enjoyed the surprises along the way. I found all the characters really intriguing, and I appreciated seeing their stories develop. I enjoyed the format that showed us not only their lives but also that of Emma and that of the last person who died at Anna's Run, Lizzy, who was Gwen's sister.
Ultimately, there are some heavy-hitting themes about feminism, recrimination, and sexual abuse as it relates to culture and the need to believe survivors. This ended up being a difficult read for these reasons.
Overall, I found this to be a highly devourable, fast-paced suspense read. Recommend for fans of SADIE, THEY WISH THEY WERE US, and/or I KILLED ZOE SPANOS.
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