‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’
[ About the Book ]
Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped.
When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good.
But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.
[ My Review ]
Girl A by Abigail Dean will be published with Harper Collins on January 21st and is being described as ‘the book that will define a decade. Beautifully written and incredibly powerful…a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.’ Girl A is a book that comes with great expectations, with the literary community very much enamoured by it….
‘Incendiary, beautifully written debut’ Guardian
‘Psychologically astute, adroitly organised, written with flair’ Sunday Times
‘An astonishing achievement.’ JESSIE BURTON
‘Gripping, beautifully written perfection.’ SOPHIE HANNAH
‘A masterpiece.’ LOUISE O’NEILL
‘Fantastic.’ PAULA HAWKINS
Alexandra ‘Lex’ Gracie, or Girl A, as the world now knows her, had a childhood that reclines in the deep recessive place of most of our minds, the place where the nightmares come from. A child should feel safe, loved, cherished and encouraged by it’s parents but, for Lex Gracie and her siblings, their house was never a home. It was a House of Horrors, a place where their childhood was swept away from them and love was something never experienced. Lex’s parents were, once upon a time, just a suburban couple with dreams and ambitions but, as time passed, something happened, a switch clicked and her father became obsessive about his religious beliefs. The family moved house and eventually the siblings were pulled from school as their father explained that home-schooling was the best option. Their mother was a woman beset with issues. Her mental wellbeing seriously affected by multiple childbirths, a madman for a husband and a slow decline into poverty. Over those early years this creeping slip into a dark and disturbing world was gradual enough that the children were not quite able to comprehend what was happening but, as they developed in mind, body and spirit, those that were old enough came to realise that this was not normal. This was not how a child was supposed to be cared for. The level of cruelty, starvation, deprivation was turning them all into skeletons of their former selves, weak, unloved, unwashed, forgotten.
Now Lex Gracie is a top-class New York lawyer and is back in the UK. Her mother has passed away in prison. There is a will to be executed, a body to be collected. Lex refuses the body but accepts the one item from her mother that she never imagined she would ever want, the family home. Lex has had therapy, years to attempt to come to terms with her early childhood years. She has limited contact with her siblings, having all been adopted following Lex’s courageous bolt for freedom many years earlier when she was fifteen. Lex suffered serious injuries as a result of her escape but, following years of surgery and physical/emotional therapy, she embraced her new life and studied law. Now living life at a very fast-pace, Lex thrives on the challenges, the booze and the hedonistic relationships to keep her mind busy, to distract her from her nightmares. Now she must face them again.
With the house, Lex plans to open up a centre, a place of refuge and hope for other children/teenagers damaged by the life given them. She hopes to turn the House of Horrors into a place where dreams can be made possible for other kids, where there will be people who these deprived children can turn to for help, for support and for love. In order to do this Lex needs the signature of each of her scattered siblings, which requires contact and the unearthing of deeply entrenched memories. Each chapter introduces the reader to each of the siblings with insights into the daily horrors experienced and how it has impacted their lives.
Girl A is very much a study on the lives of these siblings and the impact of their earlier years on their development into adults, into formed people with personalities and new lives. It feels quite authentic, almost like reading the biography of a victim in the aftermath of such atrocities. Definitely not a book for all as it does have descriptions that unsettle, disturb and upset but yet there is some hope to be found. The psychological elements of the narrative are very insightful as the after-effects of years of abuse is evident amongst all the siblings. Girl A is quite a powerful read as it delves deep into a subject area that is very hard for many of us to fathom. Parents are supposed to love and nurture, not trap and abuse, be that emotionally or physically.
Girl A is not a book packed with suspense. It is not a fast-paced read. It is, however, a shocking, intense, disconcerting and yet, quite compelling read, one that will remain with most readers long after that final page is turned.
[ Bio ]