Girl A and the Hype of a Debut Novel

Girl A by Abigail Dean

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As I always try to give reasons when I give a book less than 4 stars, here is my thoughts on Girl A. I went into this book with high expectations, such was the hype that accompanied the debut. Unfortunately, this is one of those instances where the book fails to live up to the hype – and in fact, is probably a good example of everything that is wrong with the publishing industry’s obsession with the debut novel.

My plaintive tweet when I was part way through the book.

In my opinion, the writing was pretty average: there was very little that made me sit up and think that the author had produced a sentence that was a work of art. The internal monologue of Girl A was sometimes meandering, and often boring. I found it very difficult to stay focussed on what was going on with her (and as someone who has read Ducks, Newburyport and is partial to the internal monologue of characters this is not a good reflection on Girl A).

I found myself spending more time wondering what it was about this book that meant that it got extracted from an agent’s slushpile, rather than so many of the other excellent books that I have read in my writing groups from far better writers. The only answer that I can come up with is that this is probably due, in part, to the sensationalist subject matter of the book – a child escapee from a House of Horrors, who is trying to piece together the shattered remnants of her life. I mean, it sounds good on paper, right, and easy to sell in bookshops?

To be fair, the concept is enticing, and could have made for an excellent book. But… I just failed to connect emotionally with it on any level, I found the various motivations of some of the characters difficult to comprehend, some of the plot developments were implausible, particularly where Girl A is able to find and connect with her youngest sibling, and we never get what we are promised with the book – which is the reason I bought it – the reparation of the relationships between the siblings who survived the horrors of their childhood.

This book just didn’t work for me. Not at all. The only thing that was surprising about the book is that I pressed on to the end and finished it.

View all my reviews

Published by Deborah Siddoway

Dickens enthusiast, book lover, wine drinker, writer, lover of all things Victorian, and happily divorced mother of two lovely (and very tall) boys.

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