I love Lisa Jewell’s books and I’ve already reviewed a couple since starting my blog. Her newest book was no exception and I read it all Christmas Day (pausing only for food and pictionary at the behest of my family).
The Girls is broken into two main parts, the before and after a young girl is found unconscious, half dressed and bleeding in a communal garden. Before, we see the relationships begin to form between children and adults as Clare, Grace and Pip move into the communal gardened block that serves as the kids’ world. After, the suspicions are there and we follow Clare and Adele as they discover how little they knew their daughters.
There are the ‘obvious’ suspects; a paranoid schizophrenic absent father, a special needs brother, a lecherous old man and an overly friendly dad on the scene… Then there are the less obvious ones. And at the risk of sounding spoilery (but not really) I commend Lisa Jewell for treating mental health and disabilities with sensitivity and without lazy shock value. It would have been easy to fall into stereotypes (and dangerous ones at that) but in The Girls these are rich characters, more than just there for the shock of it.
More than anything, The Girls is about the vulnerable age between childhood and adulthood, about growing up too fast and about the dangers of jealously and alienation left unchecked.