*Rape and Incest Triggers!*
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel was published in 2017 and is a psychological suspense book about the Roanoke family. Engel, a young adult writer, makes her debut in adult fiction with The Roanoke Girls. I was given a copy of this book from the group Blogging For Books.
After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and cousin, Allegra, in Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, and she quickly discovers the dark secrets that come with being one of the beautiful Roanoke girls. So she runs. Eleven years later, Lane is in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Not believing that Allegra ran, and wanting to ease her guilt about leaving her behind, Lane returns home to figure out what happened. Returning home means facing not only the secrets that made her run but also the boy she loved whose heart she broke that summer. This time she has to choose between running again or finding the strength to stand her ground.
When perusing the selection of available books from Blogging For Books I didn’t see much that caught my attention but Roanoke Girls caught my eye on name alone and pulled me in with its synopsis. However, if I had known the vile content in this story existed I never ever would have picked it. I am big fan of trigger warnings, and think they should be used way more often, so be very warned that rape and incest run rampant in this book. I could have handled it if it were a side thought used to enhance the plot but instead it is a constant theme in the book. I don’t think that at any point you can read even one chapter without it being present and it took a long time to force my way through book without being sick to my stomach. I needed to get saying that out of the way so that now I can my best to review the book aside from that. Part of me wants to be nice because it was given to me from Blogging For Books but the bigger part of me wants to be honest.
Even with the rape and incest aside this was not a very good book. The writing felt like young adult style talking about much bigger life issues. This makes sense since Engel is a young adult author, but still I would have liked for her be able to distance herself more from that area. The minor plot twist was predictable but sad. The major plot twist was slightly predictable but Engel did attempt throw a few curve balls which I liked since it gave back the element of a mystery book that was taken from the minor plot twist.
What I can safely say was good about this book was the characters, they were relatable in a very real way that I loved. Allegra was easy to love and dislike at once. Tommy was easy to pity and to picture living the ‘perfect’ life. Lane and Cooper were by far my favorite things about this book. Lane was so very easy to relate to in her struggles to break away from toxic things and form a sane life for herself, the strength and hope she wraps herself in for the ending are what every person struggles in manage in life. Cooper was perfectly imperfect, again in a very real way, and it was so easy to love him and want better for him in life. For me the character creation is the redeeming quality for this book.
Lately I’ve gotten out of the habit of posting my favorite quotes from the book with my review, which saddens me, so I am picking back up with this book.
“Sometimes it’s a revelation, even to me, how much more comfortable I am with cruelty than with kindness.”
“I wonder when he got to so strong, strong enough he’ll risk saying words I could easily throw back at him like knives…. For the first time, the changes in him give me something akin to hope. Hope that I can be more than the sum of all my miserable parts…. Enough things turn to shit without me adding to the pile.”
The characters and the intrigue might be enough for some people to enjoy this book but they weren’t enough for me, especially not with the books intense use of rape and incest. The book explores the secrets families are sometimes willing to keep and the fierce, and in this case terrible, love that both binds them together and rips them apart.
Now go forth, read psychological suspense books, and prosper.