Amy Engel 2017 Hodder and Stoughton
I have tried to write this review without any spoilers, and in this vain I have not revealed here what this book is about, however it may be that through what I have it may be obvious to some. Apologies if it is, I tried my best, read on at your peril…
I’d seen this book around a bit on Instagram and proving that I am a pure cover girl I decided to read it based purely on the cover and title. Reflecting back I can honestly say I had no idea what this book would be about, I don’t know what I thought it would be about, except I definitely didn’t think it would be about what it was about!! Making sense so far…
The Roanoke Girls is a provocative, compulsive thriller about the twisted secrets families keep, perfect for fans of Into the Water and The Girls
Roanoke girls never last long around here, in the end we either run or we die.
The girls of the Roanoke family, beautiful, rich, mysterious – seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them that’s never spoken.
Laneis one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast.
Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back. She is a Roanoke girl. Is she strong enough to escape a second time?
Part coming of age, part mystery thriller Lane Roanoke, following the death of her mother goes to live with her grandparents and cousin Allegra on the Roanoke Estate in rural Kansas. She stays for the summer and then leaves shocked by what she has witnessed. Eleven years later she returns after being contacted by her distraught Grandfather, informing her that Allegra has gone missing.
Small town vibes aplenty here as not much has changed since Lane left and so the story is told, part coming of age as in the teenage years – the summer Lane lived in Roanake, part mystery as the story of missing Allegra unfolds and a cast largely unchanged between the eleven intervening years.
Unprepared for what this book was about, I admit I found some aspects of this story shocking, not in a way that detracted from this book which I enjoyed a lot. The quartet of friends from the teenage years stayed true to their characters in adulthood, I particularly liked the friendship between Lane and her boyfriend Cooper. Both damaged kids who in their youth struggle to make their relationship work, but maintain a warmth and a spark in adulthood. I found myself rooting for them second time around.
Written in a then and now format with interludes detailing the fate of past Roanoke Girls – the women in the predominantly female family over three generations. A lot of what occurs in Roanoke is alluded to, but in a way telling enough for the reader to grasp what relatively early on. And alongside all of this is the mystery of what happened to Allegra, as I read I didn’t know or guess where this was going and while in its essence this was a story of a mystery, there was much more to this book and the story did not end when the mystery was solved.
This book was extremely well written, capturing the subtly damaging effects of toxic relationships, which build up over time resulting in chaos and dysfunction. Allegra in her teenage years encapsulated this and it was evident in the story later, after her disappearance that the damage was lasting. I found myself shocked by this book which detailed one of the last taboos, enshrined in a story of love, what a person will do for the person they love, and what people believe in the name of love and there were several love stories in this book. Its about the complexity of love in all of its facets, its about damaging relationships and the ways this damage is perpetuated and passed on and its about the role of forgiveness.
It’s a great read and I would recommend it, but suggest, depending on how you feel about taboo subject that you may wish to establish what this book is about prior to reading.
‘A must-have’ – Sunday Express
‘A provocative thriller’ – The Telegraph