Title: The Roanoke Girls
Author: Amy Engel
Genre: Mystery, psychological thriller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads Summary:After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.
Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
As it weaves between Lane s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.
This was a really hard book to read at times because abuse is such a hard thing to read about, but I did enjoy it overall! I didn't know much about Roanoke Girls going into the book, but I had been reading a lot of mysteries lately and I was in the mood for another one. This one isn't quite a mystery in the traditional sense; yes, there's a missing woman and no one knows what's happened to her, but it's more about the strange events that have haunted all the Roanoke Girls over multiple generations.
I liked how this book was very character-driven. It is narrated by a bunch of dysfunctional women, but it doesn't play too much into the "hysterical woman" stereotype that a lot of psychological thrillers use. Instead, we see all the women as complicated people who deal with a disturbing family secret in different ways. Mental health and mental illness are at the forefront of this book, and I think the author did a great job of showing how toxic environments exacerbate mental illness without defining characters as "crazy". All the women in the book are given a voice to tell their own side of the story, which I thought was very important.
My favorite part about this book is how things aren't tied up neatly at the end. There is a solid ending, don't get me wrong, but considering how dark the family secret is, I'm glad that Lane is still working towards finding her happiness at the end of the novel. Things don't just fall in her lap, she has to face her own demons and work at forming healthy relationships.
This book was a really quick and interesting read. I wouldn't call it fun, because there is some pretty icky/disturbing stuff, but I did enjoy reading about Lane's journey.
A free eARC was provided by Crown Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review