New week; new book. Jess Ryder is a new author to me but the synopsis of this one really caught my attention. While at times I felt it was predictable, this book kept me engaged, gripped and – turns around – wasn’t nearly as predictable as I thought. Keep reading for my review on The Girl You Gave Away.
Publisher: Bookoutre | Date: 2020 | Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Plot: All she wanted was the life they had…
It is the day of Erin’s fortieth birthday party. Pink and silver balloons drift through her garden, the platters of food are empty and the recycling is overflowing with empty wine bottles.
As Erin mingles with groups of family and friends, surrounded by love and laughter, she feels like the luckiest woman alive. She has no idea what fate has in store …
Then a little red envelope lands on the doormat and everything changes.
Inside is a birthday card from somebody she never dreamed would get in touch. Its message is a chilling reminder of the dark past that Erin has worked so hard to bury, a past that could put her precious family in terrible danger…
I received The Girl You Gave Away from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Girl You Gave Away Review
There are some books that grab you from the first page. Then there are others where you’re casually reading away and suddenly realise it’s got you: you can’t put it down.
That happened to me with The Girl You Gave Away. Strangers by C.L Taylor persuaded me to give thrillers another go, and I’m glad I did.
The story is told through two narrations: then and now. When Erin’s estranged daughter makes contact at her 40th birthday party, Erin thinks the worst that could happen is her husband finding out. She’s about to be proved wrong; when lies and secrets start controlling your life, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.
The second narration is Erin at 14 years old: naïve, desperate to be loved and prepared to go completely off the rails if it will make her parents notice. But when she ends up pregnant and the shame of her family, it’s not the reaction she was after.
Erin was an interesting protagonist. You feel for her as a teenager because she gets into trouble and no one notices, let alone want to help her out. Erin as an adult has picked herself up and turned her life around – by pretending that past happened to someone else.
You admire her strength, but even when she knows the odds are stacking up against her and the fall-out is going to be worst the longer she leaves it, she still won’t come clean to those nearest and dearest to her. It feels half of the events could have been avoided if Erin hadn’t been in denial so much.
The long-lost daughter, Jade, is the main reason you can’t turn the pages fast enough. Suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome, Jade is unpredictable to say the least. Her temper is fiery; her actions rash; and she isn’t bothered by either a conscience or telling outrageous lies. She provides the spikes in tension and when you know a character isn’t thinking rationally, there’s no guessing where it will go next.
“Everyone wants to know,” she said. “It’s the most important thing. When you’ve been brought up in are, nothing else comes even close. You want to know who you are and where you’re from and why you were given up-,”
The novel does well with misdirection. I’m staying spoiler free, but there are a few events that leave you guessing as to a character’s motive – or if they are who they say they are. I was thrown off on more than one occasion, thinking the book was predictable because the characters themselves had figured things out, only to be wrong.
It’s clever: once you realise a few things weren’t what you thought, you start questioning everything and any answer suddenly seems plausible – you end up asking how as much as who or why, which always makes for an engaging read.
One thing that disappointed me, however, is that there is no closure. You don’t know for sure the results of the events that take place. Erin never knows the truth about what Jade has done. You don’t find out the fall-out from how the events affected her family and her marriage. I’m not sure how this would have been done without being cliché, but I wanted some closure.
An enjoyable and gripping read that leaves you guessing and page turning.
Have you read The Girl You Gave Away? Is this your sort of genre?
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