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Girl A by Abigail Dean
Suspense

Girl A

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Abigail Dean, on your first book!

by Abigail Dean

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Quick take

This haunting exploration of trauma and survival is a gripping portrait of family, violence, and memory.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological

    Psychological

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad

    Sad

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unsettling

    Unsettling

Synopsis

"'Girl A,' she said. 'The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.'"

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, the eldest sister who freed her older brother and four younger siblings. It's been easy enough to avoid her parents—her father never made it out of the House of Horrors he created, and her mother spent the rest of her life behind bars. But 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 siblings—and with the childhood they shared.

What begins as a propulsive tale of escape and survival becomes a gripping psychological family story about the shifting alliances and betrayals of sibling relationships—about the secrets our siblings keep, from themselves and each other. Who have each of these siblings become? How do their memories defy or galvanize Lex's own? As Lex pins each sibling down to agree to her family's final act, she discovers how potent the spell of their shared family mythology is, and who among them remains in its thrall and who has truly broken free.

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Content warning

This book contains scenes that depict child abuse, domestic violence, PTSD, and suicide.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Girl A.
Girl A

1.

Lex (Girl A)

You don’t know me, but you’ll have seen my face. In the earlier pictures, they bludgeoned our features with pixels, right down to our waists; even our hair was too distinctive to disclose. But the story and its protectors grew weary, and in the danker corners of the Internet we became easy to find. The favored photograph was taken in front of the house on Moor Woods Road, early on a September evening. We had filed out and lined up, six of us in height order and Noah in Ethan’s arms, while Father arranged the composition. Little white wraiths squirming in the sunshine. Behind us, the house rested in the last of the day’s light, shadows spreading from the windows and the door. We were still and looking at the camera. It should have been perfect. But just before Father pressed the button, Evie squeezed my hand and turned up her face toward me; in the photograph, she is just about to speak, and my smile is starting to curl. I don’t remember what she said, but I’m quite sure that we paid for it, later.

***

I arrived at the prison in the midafternoon. On the drive I had been listening to an old playlist made by JP, Have a Great Day, and without the music and the engine, the car was abruptly quiet. I opened the door. Traffic was building on the motorway, the noise of it like the ocean.

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Why I love it

Every so often you come across a debut novel so accomplished, so carefully thought out and written with such conviction that it leaves you astonished. Abigail Dean’s Girl A is just one such debut.

The novel tells the story of Lex Gracie, a young woman whose childhood was blighted by her abusive parents. After her mother dies in prison, Lex is bequeathed the ‘House of Horrors’ in which she and her six siblings were raised. In an attempt to salvage some good from her awful past, Lex comes up with the idea to turn the house into a community center, but in order to do so she must find a way to connect with and convince her brothers and sisters, all of whom are struggling to overcome the pain of their past, to go along with her plan.

Dean has written a psychological drama which calls to mind the darkest crime stories of our time. She has interesting questions to pose about the prurient nature of true crime narratives, but she is most concerned not with the particular horrors of Lex and her siblings’ early lives, but in their resilience and courage. This is a story about redemption, the limits of forgiveness, and the extraordinary endurance of familial love.

Harrowing and moving in equal measure, and with echoes of Emma Donoghue’s Room and Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places, Girl A is that rare treasure—a page turner with real depth.

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Member ratings (26,803)

  • Rachel H.

    Odenton, MD

    This wasn’t the culty thriller I was expecting, but I loved it nonetheless. A literary exploration of “Girl A’s” past of horror and present of…attempted normalcy? It is dark and horrific and very good

  • Shanna m.

    Providence, NC

    This book put me through a myriad of emotions. It was disturbing and thought provoking. Reading about the effects of severe abuse and the different ways they coped or didn't pulled at my parental heartstrings

  • Carlie M.

    Atlanta, GA

    A dark, twisting tale of life after unthinkable trauma. It gave you this off kilter feeling that was so fitting for the story. It wasn’t a “feel good” book, but left you wanting more of each character

  • Jasmine H.

    Morristown , TN

    This holds your attention,makes your stomach wrench & heart break.I don’t know that I’ve ever rooted for a main character more.Lex is clever &imperfect…&makes you wish the world knew who Girl A was.

  • Jenna W.

    Philadelphia, PA

    This book had me hooked from the first line! There wasn’t a mystery aspect as I had expected — it’s more of a dark portrait of a family. Anyone that enjoyed Sharp Objects would definitely enjoy this!

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