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Girl A by Abigail Dean

Girl A


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

by Abigail Dean

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


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unsettling



"'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.

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 (26,370)

  • Rachel H.

    Dayton, OH

    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

  • Natasha C.

    San Antonio, TX

    Could not put this down as soon as I picked it up. I bawled at the thought of the conditions “Girl A” and her siblings had to endure at the hands of the people that are supposed to love them the most.

  • Lauryn H.

    New Providence, NJ

    Haunting. The writing is superb & it’s structured perfectly in a way that slowly unraveled the past & Lex’s (and her siblings’) past trauma. It painted a real portrait of trauma & different survival

  • Melissa D.

    Liberty , MO

    Wow! This book kept me on my toes until the very end. I don’t want to give away all of the twists and turns, but this is one rollercoaster of a read. I didn’t expect this to be so emotional. SO GOOD.

  • Stephanie G.

    Allentown, PA

    Very long chapters if you’re a person that’s like me who has to read until the end of a chapter! Such a sad, tragic story told by Girl A, and it truly makes you feel so humble. Absolutely must read!!