Title: The Girl Before
Author: Rena Olsen
Genre: psychological thriller
Part of a series? No
Publish date: August 9th, 2016
First, a big thank you to First to Read for the advanced copy of this book. I really enjoyed the story! The writing style was clear and precise, allowing you to move through the emotions with Clara. The characters were amazingly well developed and the plot moved fluidly. I can’t say it was fast moving, it started slow but the second half went very quickly.
Clara Lawson has never wondered whether her life is normal or good. It just is. She grew up under the tutelage of Mama Mae and Papa G, learning her lessons and to be obedient so that she can be chosen and have a good life. When she meets their son, Glen, she instantly falls in love with him. He is so handsome and can be warm and charming! He chooses her, even though she is marked for another. Life, while rough sometimes seems nearly perfect. Glen takes over his father’s… businesses… and brings home girls for Clara to love and train. Just like his father before him, he tells Clara that the parents didn’t want these girls- they sold them to Glen. Now she has to get them ready for a better life. She doesn’t question- questions get you hurt.
When their home is raided and everything falls apart Clara loses her daughters and is kept from Glen. The agents keep calling her by a different name, asking for her help. Help with what? She just wants her husband and daughters back! Over the coming weeks she begins to realize that everything she thought was normal wasn’t. That there was a girl before she became Clara. That girl’s family hadn’t given her up- were still looking for her! With this knowledge she begins to see her daughters, and her life, in a different life. Knowing now all the things she has done in her light, how can she come to terms with herself? Can she ever heal?
This was a powerful and gripping novel that kept me riveted. I loved Clara and felt for her every step of the way. I cried with her, for the girl she was and the other girls. The story was terrifyingly believable, and haunting because of that. There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like.
On the adult content scale, this ranks pretty high due to the sexual content and violence. I am going to say a seven. While tactfully done, it was still hard for me, even harder I think than if it had been more explicit.
The book comes out 8-09-2016- be ready!
Link to book: