The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This story is about two women who met and spent one day together when they were 11 years old. On that one day, and it was really just a few hours, they shared an experience that forever changed their lives. Years later they meet again under strained circumstances when each of them has assumed a new identity and is trying to live a life free of the past. Both are very careful about what they reveal to others about their shared past; both keep secrets from those they care about most for both believe that were the truth about what they did in the past revealed, they would lose everything they fought to build in the lives they're currently living.
The past is revealed slowly throughout the book as the reader follows a series of events in the present that ultimately leads to the two women coming face to face with each other once again. Both the past and the present stories are equally compelling. I found I reached a point early on where I did not want to stop reading, and in fact, I did stay up most of one night so I could finish this riveting story.
There are several thought provoking issues in this book which would make it ideal for a group reading. There is the exploration of what part the media plays in labeling people under suspicion of criminal behavior, and how the public at large perceives what the media tells them. I cannot remember ever reading such vivid descriptions of a mob mentality. It was frightening at the very least and that is due solely to the way in which is was written. What impressed me most was how realistic the scenes became as I was reading. None of it felt contrived; no handy coincidences used as devices to move the story forward.
The other issue that was addressed was whether it's right or just to hold an 11 year old child accountable for the rest of his or her life because of a tragic, destructive act committed under stressful conditions that never would have happened had the right person been targeted for the irresponsible behavior she exhibited.Alex Marwood managed to make both the subjects of her novel worthy of compassion, no matter what the crime they committed, without using melodrama to force the points she wanted to make.
This is a dark story; a psychological thriller so well done I want to tell everyone I know to read it. It is a fascinating book with some surprises, and an ending that is the perfect conclusion to a complicated, emotional story.
I received a free ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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