Author: Amy Engel
Publication: March 7, 2017 by Crown
Source: Blogging for Books
After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.
Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.
My Thoughts: I purposefully went into this book without knowing anything because I love Amy Engel's other books, and boy was I surprised.
Of course without reading the summary, I initially thought the premise surrounded the famous Roanoke Colony, well it doesn't. The main family just happens to have the last name, Roanoke. I just wanted to throw that out there.
Moving on, the two things I really enjoyed about this book were the small town setting and the main character, Lane. I am fascinated by the portrayal of small towns in books. They always have a certain ominous charm, and this one is no different. From the people to the secrets, Engel really wrote the setting beautifully.
Lane is also written well. She is not a likable character and she has a darkness buried within that she will never escape. However, she was dealt a very crappy hand in life, so I didn't expect her to be this bubbly ray of sunshine. I definitely cared for her and since you read from her perspective, you get to see what is really going on behind her emotional walls. I found her intriguing and strongly written, she felt extremely real. The main thing that kept me reading was to find out how her story ends in this crazy mess of a life.
My main problem with this book was the development of the plot. The big secret is revealed before the half way point. Sometimes this can be okay if the aftermath is really worth dragging out. However, I didn't think that was the case with this story. The reveal caught me off guard, and I have to warn you, it is very disturbing. It just tainted the last half of the book and left me thinking, "Ok, so what now?" There is another mystery reveal at the end, but I was not surprised by it.
I'm usually alright with disturbing content, but I didn't like how this topic was tied into the plot line. It takes a more psychological approach. Engel really teases out the different emotional and mental layers that these characters are experiencing and have experienced in the past. I usually like this technique, but I wasn't crazy about the subject matter.
I will say, I did like how the storyline switched between past and present. I wasn't ever confused and I thought that style significantly enhanced the story telling and character development.
There's no doubt, Amy Engel is a great writer. She has a way of fleshing out characters that I really connect to. However, the premise and plot of this story missed the mark for me. If you like a more psychological, character driven book, it may be for you. Be warned though, the mature content is not for everyone.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Roanoke Girls from Blogging for Books for free in return for this honest review.