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Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.

342 pages, Paperback

First published May 4, 2017

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About the author

Cat Clarke

16 books1,143 followers
Cat was born in Zambia and brought up in Edinburgh and Yorkshire, which has given her an accent that tends to confuse people.

Cat has written non-fiction books about exciting things like cowboys, sharks and pirates, and now writes YA novels. She lives in Edinburgh with a couple of cats, Jem and Scout, who spend their days plotting to spit up furballs at the most inconvenient times. She likes cheese A LOT, especially baked camembert.

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5 stars
553 (22%)
4 stars
944 (38%)
3 stars
783 (31%)
2 stars
168 (6%)
1 star
28 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 273 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,688 reviews1,266 followers
April 12, 2017
(I received a digital copy of this book for free. Thanks to Hachette Children's Group and NetGalley.)

“I guess that means we’re the founding members of the Dead Sisters Club.”

This was a YA contemporary story set at a boarding school.

I liked the characters in this, and I felt sorry for Harper having lost her sister to anorexia, but she also annoyed me at times. When her best friends told her not to tell a certain person something, and she did so anyway was irritating, and I didn’t quite understand how she could be so dense.

The storyline in this was about Harper attending boarding school after her sister’s death, partly because her parents had won the lottery, and partly because Harper wanted some space. There was a new girl at school, Kirsty, who Harper made friends with who didn’t seem to have many other friends, and who seemed to be hiding something from Harper, and also seemed to maybe want to be a little too close to her – borrowing her sister’s necklace and copying her hairstyle. This mystery aspect was interesting, but the pace was quiet slow, and I did start to lose interest a bit at around the half-way mark.

The ending to this tied things up nicely, and the mystery of what Kirsty was hiding was eventually solved. I do think this book could have been a bit better if the pace had been a little quicker though.

6.5 out of 10
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,010 reviews1,404 followers
April 25, 2017
Harper has worked hard to remove herself from the past that haunts her, installing herself in remote Duncraggen boarding school. Here, life is less hockey sticks and ginger beer, and more midnight sneak-outs and, well, regular beer. She becomes an integral part of a small friendship group and her past remains firmly tucked away in the most shadowed corners of her mind. That is, until new girl Kirsty arrives.

Something about the new arrival shakes Harper and reminds her of what she has tried to forget. Kirsty threatens to break the group's tenuous grasp on each other, whether she knows it or not, and Harper is the first one to feel the reverberations of this possibility. With the return of the past, the present tension, and the future uncertainity, Harper must decide where her loyalty lies and which of her secrets she can allow to remain buried.

The boarding school setting denoted much of the ensuing angst, and the close proximity of the friendship group also provided a pivot in which the plot revolved around. It is precisely why I appreciate books in this sort of secluded setting. There is a pervading eeriness about the isolation of the characters and it is the perfect environ for a whirlwind of negativity and emotion to expand and destroy all around it.

This book smacks of teen rebellion! There is something utterly satisfying about reading of characters reveling in doing what they are not supposed to be doing. And much of this book dealt with the emerging emotions that characterises the character's age. These combined made the focus on the inner-workings on the close-knit group take a larger narrative focus than its thriller-esque counterparts. Each worked side-by-side, however, to bring this plot to its mysterious culmination!

The pervading darkness of the book is what sucked me in and made this a one-sitting book. The character's internal struggles as well as their external drama all combined to make this a solid and thrilling new heavy-hitter in the genre and made me a new follower, eager to discover more of Clarke's brilliance.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
August 22, 2017
Thoughts on the First Chapter

Oh man. Boarding School Books. They're like catnip to me, I love to bask in them. This one is off to a cracking start. I love the camaraderie between the girls, how there are slight tensions already starting to surface, and how there's a thread of mystery. And I *need* to know Jenna's story.

5 Words: Friendship, secrets, lies, boarding-school, privilege.

From the very first chapter I was hooked, desperate for more. Boarding School books are like catnip for me, I can't get enough of them. I love the tension, how everything is more intense at such close quarters.

And this book was pretty much perfect.

I loved the focus on friendship and family, how it was explored against a backdrop of privilege. I loved how it lead to resentment, the stark contrast between the Have and Have-Not slowly becoming more and more apparent, the devastation it all caused.

Girlhood doesn't hold back on the nitty-gritty, the crush of grief and blame. The chilling Scottish setting sent shivers up my spine and made the whole story a little more hard hitting, especially against the flash-backs to Harper's life before.
Profile Image for Helena (helenareadsxx).
188 reviews164 followers
October 8, 2021
I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did when I first started it. I think it was a thoughtfully crafted story, with interesting characters for sure. I will say to check trigger warnings as it does go into detail on a couple and can be a bit heavier than expected.
Profile Image for Trish at Between My Lines.
1,044 reviews289 followers
August 22, 2017
This review was originally posted on Between My Lines

I flat-out loved this book!  I savour book about friendship, and I adored how this book focused on the sisterhood theme, with no major romances thrown into steal the limelight.  Friendship deserves the spotlight and I’m so glad that it was centre stage in Girlhood by Cat Clarke.

First Line of Girlhood by Cat Clarke

“We always have a midnight feast on the first night back.”

5 things I Loved about Girlhood by Cat Clarke

Boarding School setting

I grew up on a staple reading diet of boarding school books.  From Malory Towers to St Clare’s; I gorged on every one that I could get my hands on.  It was so much fun to revisit this setting, but in a realistic contemporary world.  Plus, the boarding school element added so much intensity to the friendships as they were together 24/7.

Very Little Romance

OK, you can’t have a young adult book with zero romances, because that is just so unrealistic.  However I loved that the romances were just one element of their lives, and not the be all and end all of their focus and attention.

Single White Female element

There is a dark edge with a single white female angle.  Kirsty is the new girl at school, and comes across as needy and full of issues.  However I loved that we really got to understand her, and she wasn’t just a token villain to add suspense.

Mental Health issues:

There is a very authentic representation of a myriad of mental health issues.  I appreciated that they were tackled sensitively, and thoughtfully.  I loved that it captured what was important to these characters with zero condensation.  Unfortunately dealing with grief, hormones, self-esteem, longing for friendship, fear of the future and so much more is part of life.  This book captures all that perfectly.


I respected that diversity was represented naturally in the book.  Harper is bisexual, Ronan is a lesbian, but neither of these are major storylines.  It’s just who they are, it’s part of the friendship dynamic, and fully accepted by all.

The Bottom Line

I adored Girlhood, and it had the honour of being my first 5 star rating of 2017. So what if I had to wait half the year to get that, it was all the sweeter when it finally came.

Who should read Girlhood by Cat Clarke

This is a must-read book if you love contemporary young adult novels, and especially if you love boarding school settings, or character driven reads.  Fans of authors such as Holly Bourne, or Karen Gregory should also enjoy.

Thanks to NetGalley and Quercus for giving me a copy of this book for review consideration. As always, no matter what the source of the book, you get my honest, unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,405 reviews989 followers
April 6, 2017
Now it has to be said I’m a bit of a sucker for school/college/university type stories, that dig deep into friendship dynamics, Cat Clarke has written a page turner here that also happens to have a dark heart and a strong emotive tone. Looking not only at themes of grief, female friendship and sexuality, it also has a realistic edge to it that is highly compelling.

I’m not sure I’d call it a thriller – the relationships between the girls who have been a tight knit group for a long time, when faced with an incomer are at the heart of this, especially in the case of Harper who has suffered a loss her friends cannot even comprehend. The shock to their close relationship when she finds someone who may well understand her better is brilliantly done and keeps you just turning those pages.

There are thriller elements – Kirsty is an oddball for sure and her motivations are murky and coming to the truth provides the little twists here, but ultimately I felt this story was more about coming to terms, reassessing life as you grow up and how this both pushes you closer to those you love and pulls you apart. The ultimate resolution to Girlhood was emotional and heart warming yet melancholy and considered. Which I thought was pretty perfect.

I’d definitely recommend this – I’ll have to track down more from Cat Clarke.
Profile Image for Kirsty Hanson.
313 reviews55 followers
April 24, 2017
When reading the blurb of this book, it reminded me of the 2008 film Wild Child, starring Emma Roberts. It was set in a boarding school and there were catty friendships and backstabbing. It all sounded a bit cliché, to be honest. Boarding schools have this tendency to be portrayed in a very bitchy way... But I decided to give the book a shot anyway because I enjoyed reading Cat Clarke's The Lost and the Found.

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows no one else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

First off, let me just say that my favourite character was Rowan. She stood up for her friends, let Harper know when she was in the wrong (which seemed to be all the time), but she knew that friendship was important and couldn't just let it go like it didn't mean anything. Harper just seemed ... I don't even know... she just didn't seem to care about anyone but herself. I know that she was going through a difficult time, I completely understand that, but the way she treated her friends as soon as the new girl came along was horrible. (FYI, new girl is called Kirsty which is fab because I never see my name in anything 🙌🏼)

I did really like the thrilling atmosphere of it and I found that the storyline wasn't predictable. I was guessing what was going to happen or what the secrets were, to find out that I couldn't have been more wrong. However, when we did find out the secrets at the end of the book, I was a little disappointed. I thought the secret would be... more, I guess? I also didn't really like

"Sometimes I wish they could cut open my brain and scoop out the broken bits"

- Cat Clarke, Girlhood

The one thing that I really did like about this book was the friendship between Harper, Rowan, Lily, and Ama. They knew that it was Rowan and Harper and then Ama and Lily, but that didn't stop them from being a close-knit, four-person friendship group. I will admit, there were definitely a clash of personalities in there because they were so different from each other. Another thing that I really liked about this book was that Harper was bisexual (and also our protagonist, which you don't see often in YA!) and then there was also Rowan who was a lesbian. So having that kind of dynamic within a young adult novel was definitely a good thing to see. At times, I got the sense that maybe Rowan liked Harper, but it was never expanded on within the novel.

Overall, this was a thrilling book that I could have enjoyed until the very end if it wasn't for the slow middle and the ending... But it is a good story about losing someone you love, friendship and family, and even better... THERE IS NO ROMANTIC LOVE INTERESTS! WHOOOO!

Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Released 4th May
Profile Image for Yolanda Sfetsos.
Author 68 books176 followers
July 19, 2017
I was really looking forward to reading this book, so I got stuck into it shortly after receiving a copy from Hachette Australia.

Harper attends an expensive boarding school in Scotland and is part of a tight group. Rowan, Lily and Ama are her best friends, so she can't wait to make long-lasting memories with them during their last year of school. 

All that changes when a new girl arrives.

Kirsty is nice but doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the group. Yet she has something in common with Harper. They've both lost sisters, and bond over their shared loss because no one else will ever understand the grief and guilt attached to such a devastating experience.

As Harper gets closer to Kirsty and finds herself confiding in her new friend, it comes with a downside--alienation from the others. With the distance growing between the girls and Harper, and her parents trying to move on with their lives, everything around her is changing too quickly. And Kirsty hiding something isn't helping...

Wow. This is such a great book! I really, really enjoyed it. From the beginning, Harper's voice is easy and relaxed, but also dripping with grief. Everything she does, experiences and remembers is measured against the memory of her sister. The twin sister who died several years ago. She feels responsible about what happened, and just can't shake the guilt.

I liked how flawed Harper was, and how easily she compensates for others' mistakes and strange behaviour, but is super tough on herself. She's a good person with good intentions, but lets everything rub her the wrong way and then reacts too impulsively. Her reactions come across as judgement, but that's not what she's aiming for. She's just so weighed down with sorrow all the time.

I also really liked the friendship group, and how they're all so close that they're virtually family. Even though each girl is very different, they are perfect friends, so at times it was hard to watch the slow deterioration of their tight-knit group. I especially liked Rowan, who was headstrong and no-nonsense, but still vulnerable in so many ways.

Yep. There were SO MANY small things I loved about this story that form an intricate and intriguing plot.

Girlhood is a gripping book. A page turner that made me fear the worst the deeper I got into the story. It's a story about the shadow grief casts over the ones left behind. It's about the highs and lows of amazing friendship. It's also quietly wicked. This book definitely got under my skin, so I had to keep reading until everything unravelled.

This is my second Cat Clarke book, and I can't wait to read more.
Profile Image for Nina.
986 reviews10 followers
April 17, 2017
I like Cat Clarke because she broaches subjects in her novels that often go untouched (and can a get a hell yeah for a bisexual main character?! With the actual word "bisexual" being used!) A relatively quick read about some heavy topics.
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,424 followers
February 12, 2019

This was the first Cat Clarke I read, which is shocking as she's a mainstay of UKYA. I absolutely loved it. It's described as a queer boarding school book, which is the perfect description. It's about toxic friendships in a very enclosed, inter-dependant environment, where your peer relationships are quite literally a matter of life or death.

The characters are grieving in different ways, and that emotion muddies the water with every interaction. I particularly loved the friendship between Rowan (lesbian) and Harper (bisexual). Both queer roommates, this seemed the inevitable friendship-to-romance dynamic, but things were both more complex, realistic and enjoyable than that. I would love to read a sequel set in their first year at university, when they are at different schools and struggling to maintain a friendship long distance.
The passionate-turned-mysterious Kirsty is an excellent character, who I have a lot of sympathy for. I didn't find her as interesting as Rowan, who I would have liked to see more of, but I guess that wouldn't have made the book as exciting! Kirsty's scenes were incredible dramatic - there's a moment with a shotgun which made my heart race, and all the priest hole hiding scenes were brilliant.

The boarding school is an expensive, Hogwarts-style Scottish castle, and I really enjoyed that element of the book. Harper's family won the lottery (the day after her twin sister died, in the most bittersweet twist of fate imaginable) so she comes from a very average background, compared to her friends, who have grown up in wealth. The experiences she went through felt very realistic. There's also a student-teacher relationship handled with a very expert touch.

Cat Clarke is a huge talent in YA, and I can't wait to make my way through her extensive backlist.
Video review posted at https://youtu.be/CFZNwCj4jEA
Profile Image for Bee.
430 reviews859 followers
May 1, 2017
Honestly, I feel like I was constantly waiting for something more exciting to happen. I'm always a little touchy when a dead twin is used as the plot hook because I don't find it gimmicky at all. Twin books already have been 10x more emotional, but dead twin books and I'm a puddle on the floor even before I've started reading just at the idea of not having my sister. I just wished there had been a few more emotional flashbacks to when Jenna was alive - something to make me feel more connected to them as sisters.

As for all of the other characters, I felt like they melted into one. It's normal in friendship groups for your personalities to merge, but I couldn't really tell you anything specific about any of the friends. They were diverse with Ama having Nigerian heritage, Rowan being gay and Harper being bi, but I don't think we got enough background on any of them.

I thought the action would escalate way quicker too! But I don't want to go into spoilers, so I won't share my theories, or how I would have preferred things to go down, but suffice to say I was disappointed!
Profile Image for kaylaaaaaaaaaa kaylaaaaaaaaaa.
Author 1 book112 followers
June 29, 2018
So the cover is gorgeous, I love the neon pick and the matches. The book however was just not for me. I didn't like the characters or the story. It just wasn't a book that good.
Profile Image for Jessica☆.
250 reviews8 followers
May 1, 2018
"I lost myself when my sister died, and these girls rebuilt me, piece by piece, I thought nothing could ever come between us. I thought I knew who I was... Untill the new girl showed up."

I have mixed feelings about Girlhood at first I liked where it was going, but then once it got past the half way point, it just flatlined. I was expecting more as I kept reading but I just never got what I was hoping for, I was disappointed. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it, I read the book quite quickly as the writing was easy to get into but the ending and some of the plot just irritated me.

The book is about an all girl boarding school and we follow our main character Harper and her friends Rowan,Ama and Lily. Everything is ship shape until the new girl Kirsty arrives.
At first she's quiet and mysterious, then she gets closer to Harper and from there things start to turn (somewhat) sinister.

This is where my problem lies. I was expecting alot more creepy stuff to happen in this book, Clarke could have took the 'why you so obssesed with me' scenario sooo much further, but it just wasn't enough.
Even when Kirtsy had done something strange Harper never seemed to really react to it:
Somehow got Harper's dead sister's necklace? not gonna question it
Had a haircut the EXACT SAME as hers? nope not freaked out
Creepily staring at Harper and her friends at night? not even phased

Which brings me to the ending- after Kirsty had previously done the things above, alongside with; pointing a gun at a student, stealing photos from Harper and Rowan's room, lying about having a dead sister and purposely telling Harper and the other girls' secrets to the mean girl. They all FORGIVE HER. They just forgive her and act like nothing's happened all because she ended up telling them that her mother died. WTF?? she's clearly unstable to have done those things in the first place and you're just gonna forgive and forget? hell nah, I was so pissed at this ending she basically got away with it all and still stayed friends with them because of her mum, okay then.

I'm done with this review, I enjoyed some bits, but the ending was the worst.

Trigger warning for: Anorexia and Loss
Profile Image for Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies).
860 reviews278 followers
August 7, 2017
Friendship and boarding schools!

Cat Clarke is definitely one of my favourite authors. I love her characters and relationships and I'll always be excited to read more of her stories. Just as I was excited to read Girlhood especially with the boarding school element to it.

While Girlhood didn't quite reach the emotional impact as some of the author's previous stories there is still so much emotion in this book and a lot to love about it.

My top five reasons to love this story include (but aren't limited to)

1) the boarding school element
2) an addition to the first reason is that this boarding school is set in this Scottish wilderness, which makes it that little bit more ...wild?
3) the friendships, which I think is what keeps drawing me back to Cat Clarke's stories
4) the issues that this book tackles including an eating disorder, grief, guilt and also ...gaslighting
5) the diversity of the characters including sexuality, race and differing economic backgrounds.

What even is it about boarding school stories that are such a pull to me and to so many other readers? They're just so addictive to read and the boarding school within Girlhood is no exception. Here are a bunch of girls all living together away from their parents, having this little bit of freedom and independence. And I think the fact that this is a boarding school in Scotland and in this particular location makes it even more fun. Because of that there are secret caves and spooky nooks and crannies within the building, ghost stories that can be pulled out to scare.

The main character in Girldhood is Harper. She's come to Duncraggan Academy for a new start. She's still haunted by the death of her twin sister, Jenna and Harper still carries feelings of both grief and guilt for her part in Jenna's death. But she's found a great, close group of friends and things seem mostly okay ...until the arrival of new girl, Kirsty Connor, shakes things up.

As I said, one of my favourite elements to this story are the friendships. Harper's friends are pretty amazing: supportive and togethery and you can tell immediately how much they mean to Harper. But you can see with the arrival of Kirsty that cracks start appearing in Harper's friendship group. But can it be so easy to destroy a friendship? I'd also not heard that much about gas-lighting before, the manipulative tricks that are employed to cause unease and self-doubt. I thought it was interestingly done in Girlhood. It kept me reading and wanting to know more. But I also loved that this is a book not only about the slow destruction of friendships but about building new ones and building on existing friendships.

And finally, thank you to Cat Clarke for writing diversity into this book without having it be a thing in the book. There are bisexual characters in this book and people of colour but these things are secondary to the main plot line. I love that. The only bit I will mention specifically is that Harper does struggle in coming from a middle class background and adjusting into a community mostly made up of far wealthier classmates and friends even though her own circumstances had changed to match those of her friends. And I found that particularly interesting.

I really enjoyed Girlhood. It was tense and engaging and I really do recommend it!
Profile Image for Kirsty .
3,223 reviews329 followers
May 29, 2017
I loved this book for several reasons.

Firstly I love love love boarding school books. It's something I loved reading about in books as a child and it is still something I adore. I like how it changes relationships and situations often making them more intense because of the close quarters the characters are living in and this book was no exception seeing how the characters interacted and how things played out.

I like that this book doesn't hold back and tackles some real issues in a thoughtful way in this case around the impact the death of Harper's twin has on her.

As a side note I was very excited to receive this book because one of the characters is named after me which my inner book geek is so ridiculously geeky about ever time I think about it.

All in all I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Nav (she/her) 🌧.
143 reviews19 followers
February 4, 2018
Girlhood follows the life of a young girl at a boarding school called Harper. Harper decides to go to boarding school after her twin sister dies. She slowly starts to rebuild her life with the help of her three best friends at school. But when a new girl called Kirsty joins the school in Harper's final year, suddenly everything changes and Harper ends up on a dark path.

I really enjoyed reading this book and could not put it down! I quickly realised that there was more to Kirsty than Harper could see and this created a really mysterious feel to the book. It was like you knew that something bad was going to happen but you just didn't know what and when it would happen.

Mental illnesses are also covered in the book including, eating disorders and anxiety (one of Harper's friend deals with anxiety). It is always good to see mental illnesses represented in a book, particularly one set in a school setting. I really appreciated this inclusion because it didn't glamorise it at all and made it feel very real and believable.

All in all, I enjoyed reading Girlhood and feel it would best be suited to those who enjoy YA contemporary books.
Profile Image for mathilde maire.
36 reviews115 followers
July 15, 2017

loved it but the morbid trash goblin that i am was hoping for a more twisted ending
Profile Image for Amelia.
1,514 reviews120 followers
February 10, 2018
3.5 Stars

It was a real pleasure to read about these distinctly modern young women, their attitudes, choices and their close knit friendship group. It's rather a shame that Girlhood appears to be a standalone. Of all the YA novels with mediocre sequels then one with lots more to explore comes along and there isn't a sequel? Typical!
Profile Image for Zuzana.
474 reviews11 followers
October 29, 2017
If I could recommend one book for every teen girl to own or have as the part of her book selection, it would be this one. Ms Clarke managed to capture the struggle with copying the loss of someone close to you. The heart-break. The guilt which most of us carry. And she put this story in the middle of boarding school for girls where already friendship are either too fragile or quite strong. Emotions are on high. But I loved this story. It was mesmerising and absolutely heart-shatterring. I cannot wait to read more from her penmanship.
Profile Image for claireloueeez.
117 reviews87 followers
February 7, 2018
Who would have thought that I would finish a book after half a year. I only read one in 2017 but this book has reignited my love for reading again so fingers crossed :)
Profile Image for Em.
995 reviews19 followers
June 20, 2019
Harper Kent is guilty of her sister's death and as such has shipped herself off to boarding school as penance. When she meets Kirsty Connor, another equally guilty sister, she finally feels understood. But there is more to Kirsty than meets the eye and Harper will have to be careful of how close she gets to this new friend if she wants to keep her old ones too.

This book is quite hard to talk about without spoiling anything so I'll be brief. I absolutely loved the thriller/mystery dynamic of this book. The setting is just as creepy as what goes on and it all complimented everything beautifully. I was totally engaged in this story from the very first chapter and it was a fascinating, twisted read that had you guessing at every turn.

There are some LGBT+ characters and some POC characters and there's a lot of conflict between characters from different class backgrounds as well. The discussions and commentary around all these different perspectives are very well written and there were quite a few scenes that made me think about things in a different way.

An excellent, emotional YA thriller that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

Warnings: Gaslighting, emotional manipulation, references to anorexia.
Profile Image for Nati.
276 reviews
June 6, 2017
I really enjoyed this book, it was a fun and at points very eerie read that I found difficult to put down. I got frustrated at the characters - some more than others purely because they couldn't see everything that was happening - and loved them all the same. I will say that I expected a mystery filled with twists and turns and heartbreaking endings, and there are elements of that in this, but above all it is a story about unwavering friendships and how far someone will go to feel like they belong.
Profile Image for Anne Pauline.
486 reviews100 followers
November 26, 2017

Dommage, pour un thriller emmotionnel, j'aurais aimé plus de saaaaang et de violeeeence. Mais soit, je tenterai d'être moins psychopathe et plus objective : c'était une bonne lecture, très addictive. Je l'ai dévoré d'une traite. La fin est un peu gentillette et prévisible (pour une fois que je devine l'entourloupe) mais sinon l'ambiance 8 clos et les personnages sont bien installés dans ce récit. Ca m'a donné envie de découvrir d'autres romans de Cat Clarke !
Profile Image for Megan  (thebookishtwins).
523 reviews171 followers
May 12, 2017
I received this free from the publishers via NetGalley

4.5 stars

Harper can't escape the guilt she carries over her twin sister's Jenna death. She has even tried to run away to and expensive boarding school, Duncraggan Academy, to try and forget her past. She hasn't yet met anyone who understands what she's going through. That is, until Kirsty arrives. Kirsty understands exactly what she's going through because she lost a sister too. The two become close, but Kirsty erratic and manipulative behaviour puts Harpers current friendships at risk.

I really enjoyed Girlhood. It was a dark and atmospheric read, but it also had a happier feel to it at times. I loved the setting, it was in a secluded Scottish boarding school by the sea which added to the eerie atmosphere of the novel. One of my favourite things about this novel was the friendships - which were complicated, to say the least.

Girlhood featured a bisexual main character, which was stated on the page. I appreciated Harper as the protagonist. She had some good elements, she was funny and witty at times, and caring and kind. However, she did make some... questionable choices at times. BUT, she can't be fully blamed as her and Kirsty's relationship was really toxic and Kirsty was a pro at manipulating.

One of my favourite characters was Rowan. Rowan was Harper's best friend. She and Harper went through a lot of conflict throughout the novel, but their relationship was a pleasure to read. Above everything, they were supportive and caring towards each other and their friendship was very important to the both of them. Rowan was a joy to read because she was funny, smart, and charismatic - a wonderful character. Bonus points - she was also a lesbian and a woman of colour (It was stated she was east-Asian and she attended boarding school while her parents moved to South Korean, so I'm assuming she's Korean but I don't know for sure). They were other friendships present, and I loved their group dynamics.

I loved the twin relationship in this (even though Jenna was dead at the beginning of the book, she died from anorexia.) Harper struggled to cope with the guilt she felt over her sister's death as she felt partly responsible because she was the one who suggested the diet. But I felt like Cat Clarke understood that relationship between twins, and I really appreciated that. I'd have just loved to have seen more of the Harper and Jenna's relationship.
"You can't separate the belongings of twins - it's just not possible. Things that started out as mine became hers, and vice versa. We were always very good at sharing; it's probably the number one life skill you learn from being a twin."

Overall, Girlhood was an atmospheric, female & friendship driven read that was compelling enough that I read it in a couple of days. I'd highly recommend.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
85 reviews
January 8, 2018
As part of my 2018 Book Resolutions, I want to at least attempt a review for every book I read this year even if it is just five lines of me screaming about how much I love it. So we'll see how this goes but here it is, my first review of 2018 for my first read of 2018!

I had no idea what I wanted to read so I just randomly picked a title off my shelf that I will admit probably was because it's bright pink and I noticed it before my usual collection of black and blue and red covers. BUT, I loved the premise, I loved the sound of the Scottish boarding school and I love any book with groups of close girl friends.

My main love with this book was the characters. They were so real, so unique and so human. Harper's pain and hurt over losing her twin sister was real and so raw, it made her a main character that I actually liked but the best characters were definitely her friendship group. Especially Rowan! Cat Clarke built these characters into girls I felt like I knew with their own plights and worries and fears, up to the point I felt like part of their friendship group myself. Plus, I loved how Rowan was a lesbian and Harper was bi but it wasn't a plot device! There wasn't any queerbaiting or using their sexualities as a weapon against their characters. It was simply a small part of a whole bigger picture of who they were and I was so surprised because I didn't know there were any LGBTQIAP+ characters because Cat Clarke didn't use them as a ploy.

Clarke definitely knows how to build suspense and have you ready to both punch and hug a character which is pretty much exactly how I felt about Kirsty. One minute I felt so much sympathy for her and then the next I was ready to slap her across the face.

I loved the story, would have finished it in one go but sadly my body does require sleep sometimes, much to my annoyance XD. I've not devoured a book this quickly in a long time and it was refreshing! It was creepy, bitchy and addictive; everything I need in January!

The reason this book doesn't get a full 5 star rating from me is simply because maybe I'm too much of a twisted person myself, but I was craving a slightly bigger ending. A wee bit more explosions and chaos but then again, the ending was satisfying in wrapping it all up and coming round full circle.

Cat Clarke's books are definitely now being moved very high up my tbr list!
Profile Image for Lucie.
828 reviews88 followers
December 5, 2017
cw// eating disorder, mentions of suicidal thoughts and a scene that might trigger claustrophobic people

For some reason, I had never read anything by Cat Clarke before, but when I heard about this one, with its very pink but beautiful cover, it picked my interest. The fact that it had a 'buy one, get the second half price' sticker at Waterstones also really helped this case, I didn't need any more reason to pick it up.

I loved that this book focused so much on friendships, both the good and the bad. The dynamics between Harper, Rowan, Lily and Alma were so well-portrayed. They were aware that it was Harper and Rowan, Lily and Alma, and yet, they were a close group of friends and worked very well together. They all had different stories and personalities which led to some clashes between them, it was all the more realistic. While their group is established, it all goes down hill when a new girl arrives and starts being friends with Harper. From there, it was also about toxic relationships in life and how you can be wrong about someone, how you can be blinded to the flaws of someone and I truly needed that.

Besides, the characters were so relatable and diverse, I felt like there was a bit of me in each of them. They were diverse in sexuality, ethnicity, mental health and social origin. Harper, our main character, could have been hard to like because she doesn't always make the best choices, but she was lost in her own life, so while she could read as selfish, I truly understood her and felt for her. My favourite character definitely was Rowan (her only flaw was her name, but she reconciled me with this name somehow), she stood up for her friends and wasn't scared to tell them when they were in the wrong. She was smart, confident and honest and I truly adored her.

It's been such a long time since I read a novel set in a boarding school, but why did no one tell me it was set in Scotland? The boarding school was in a castle and there were cliffs, excuse me, that's about my favourite type of setting. It made me love the atmosphere even more and for some reason I had no idea it was #ukya so I was a very happy reader. It was also full of pop culture references, from embracing your true Harry Potter house to a boxset of Downton Abbey (aka my favourite show, I was very happy), it was so much fun to read about.

Now, for the plot, it was a very quick and thrilling read. In my opinion, there was never a dull moment, because I was always interested in the characters' story. I had forgotten about the summary, so hearing about Harper's sister made me want to cry all the time and it was hard, that's quite my fault here. However, I was a little underwhelmed by the revelation at the end. I needed more from it, I hadn't guessed everything, but still.

Another winning point in this novel is: there are no love interests. The focus of this book truly was friendship, forgiving yourself and figuring who you are and I didn't need more. I wouldn't have been against a romance, but truly, Girlhood was enough.

Overall, Girlhood was a great novel and I flew through it. I was in a book hangover when I was reading this, but it definitely put me out of this, so thank you, book. I'm really looking forward to read more of Cat Clarke's novels in the future.
Profile Image for Holly Sparks.
Author 3 books149 followers
May 9, 2017
Girlhood is such a unique and wonderful story about the friendship of five girls and the amazing connections you make with the closest ones to you.

Harper’s story made me cry, made me laugh and also had me so entranced that I just couldn’t stop reading until my eyes just stopped working and I deadpanned on my bed.

Harper, Lily, Ama and Rowan are definitely four girls that I seriously NEED in my life! They are so freaking hilarious and funny. I adored how much Lily made me chuckle with her sexual endeavours and her answers in the delirious games of truth and dare with the champagne chugged down every five seconds.

Ama is such a talented girl and Rowan is the bestest best friend you can ever ask for. Rowan is my favourite character by far! I loved the way she didn’t take any crap from anyone! She was there and didn’t give two monkeys who thought what about her. Yes. She’s my dream best friend! I would so join her club 😉

Kirsty was one that I felt sorry for the whole way through! I think she was ana amazing character—I loved her and disliked her at the same time.

Harper was an amazing protagonist! She was funny, smart and had a voice I could relate too. To see her grief over her sister Jenna and to see how far she has come and her family for that matter too made this book a very easy, slightly upsetting and miraculous read.

The ending was the best thing I’ve read in a while!

Five stars Cat Clarke.

Holly x
Profile Image for gem.
703 reviews22 followers
August 19, 2017
I love any books set in boarding schools, whether it be Mallory Towers or Harry Potter. This book is a contemporary Wild Child-esque type book, but contains a lot more of a toxic friendship than outright bitchiness. (Actually, I just watched a six part show on Iplayer called the Clique which was kind of a University version of this twisted friendship. Check it out if you haven't seen it, it's great!).

The story engaged me from the outset and Rowan became my favourite straight away. She seemed so "real" and someone that I would have liked. I can't imagine having to share a bedroom with a stranger, yet she welcomed Harper. When Kirsty started I was unsure how she would affect the dynamic as girls are notoriously territorial over their friendship groups. The plot advanced quickly, and I enjoyed the dialogue between characters and the setting.

To me it was obvious that there was a "twist" coming, and yet I'd already guessed most of what was going on from the subtle hints that had been dropped in the previous passages. I read an awful lot of crime fiction so I actively look out for any tiny details that I find incongruous at the time of reading and automatically assume they are going to contribute towards a later part of the book, so I was happy that I'd realised that. I felt it could have been a bit more dramatic, yet at the same time what happened felt entirely plausible.

Cat Clarke really does excel at taking a scenario and making it feel as if you are the character or are at least right there with them!
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