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The American Girl

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A riveting psychological thriller about an American exchange student in France involved in a suspicious accident and the dark secrets a small town is hiding. . .

On a quiet summer morning seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch, barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her.

Quinn's appearance creates a stir, especially since her host family, the Blavettes, has mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl has anything to do with the missing family.

A Boston reporter named Molly Swift travels to St. Roch, prepared to do anything to learn the truth and score the ultimate scoop. After Quinn is arrested and a trial by media ensues, she finds an unlikely ally in the young journalist. Molly unravels the disturbing secrets of the town's past in an effort to clear Quinn's name, but even she is forced to admit that the American girl makes a compelling suspect.

Is Quinn truly an innocent abroad, or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder?

423 pages, Paperback

First published August 2, 2016

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About the author

Kate Horsley

9 books67 followers
I'm a writer living in Manchester with my artist husband, John, a small person called Violet and a ghost called Ron.

The Monster’s Wife , my first novel, was a rewriting of Frankenstein told from the perspective of the girl Victor Frankenstein transformed into a Bride for his monster. I wrote most of the novel on the tiny island in the Scottish Orkneys on which it's set and it was shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year Award.

My second novel, The American Girl , tells the story of and American exchange student who stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch, barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her. I also wrote this partly on the hoof, in the various locations in the South of France mentioned in the book.

Before I became a writer, I had a lot of jobs, from babysitter and box-assembler to librarian and teacher. I teach photography with my husband and travel as often as possible, often wearing an elaborate disguise.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 289 reviews
Profile Image for Archit.
824 reviews3,217 followers
May 31, 2017
Ok, you caught me!

A curious case of a book binding the reader.

Quinn Perkins comes to France as an exchange student. One day in a pleasant summer, she is found wounded and barefoot in the woods. She has no sense of what has happened to her. No memories at all. Doctors advice her to record the video of what she remembers.

This video recording and blogs written by her prior to this mysterious events have been the base of narration in The American Girl.

A reporter, Molly Swift from Boston has been appointed to figure out the truth. She will do anything and everything to get that. Why this investigation team is being involved with this student?

Strange to think ha?

Well, the most exciting part of this novel is that the host family of Quinn Perkins has been disappeared since many days. Everyone believes that Quinn has one thing or two to inform the police. What is the truth and will it be bitter like always? You have to find that out.

The writing of the author is impressive to say the least. The novel is written in alternative fashion. One, from the recordings of Quinn's and another is from the perspective of Molly as she progresses in her investigation. Intense and Sharp, I would say.

The suspense and mystery to it, kept me engaged to it till the end pages. The writer is exceptionally talented and she presents it very well. You don't expect the debut books to be as great as this. The American Girl has everything I could ask for in a suspense novel.

I would recommend this book if you're up for a psychological thriller.

The title matches up with the story and the movement throughout the pages happens at a breakneck speed.

Marvelously penned, it would not be an exaggeration to compare this with the thrill and quality of The Girl on The Train.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,905 reviews1,642 followers
August 30, 2016
Quinn Perkins is a 17 year old foreign exchange student. She wakes up in hospital with no memory except being chased by something dangerous. She does not remember that she was involved in a hit and run accident. She has been given a camera to help her remember events as they unravel door her. The family she was staying with have disappeared. With the help of journalist Molly Swift will she remembers?

I liked the authors style of writing in this novel. With a gripping storyline to keep your attention till the end.

I would like to thank Net Galley, Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction and the author Kate Horsley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sheila.
973 reviews87 followers
May 9, 2017
2 stars--it was okay.

I really liked this book when I first started reading it; the mystery was intriguing, the writing was good, and there were lots of really creepy hints of something sinister going on.

But the more I read, the more disappointed I became. The writing is good, yes, but I wasn't able to suspend my disbelief at the unrealistic nature of the plot. The behavior of the police, the press, the hospital... it was all so completely unrealistic that I was torn out of the story, time and again. This would have worked better if Molly (the main character, a reporter) was investigating a cold case. Having her investigate a current crime, which supposedly was being heavily followed by paparazzi, just didn't work, unless everyone else in the novel was a complete idiot. I was going to list every unrealistic detail, but it would be spoilery--not to mention a long list!

The ending also bothered me. I was hoping for something really cool and creepy, but it was just kind of tawdry. Also, ?
Profile Image for Erica.
1,342 reviews440 followers
Shelved as 'couldnt-finish'
February 15, 2018
I had to give up on this. I'd worked on it for weeks; every time I picked it up, I had forgotten what had happened last time I'd read it and then I'd get bored and put it down again in favor of something more interesting. Once I made it a third of the way through and still couldn't wrap my mind around what this is supposed to be - An old-fashioned mystery with the strong and silent detective and a plucky journalist? A psychological thriller? Suspense? Something bordering on cosy? - I decided I didn't care anymore and threw in the towel.

Here's what I gleaned in the first third of the story:
It's told from two points-of-view.
1) Quinn Perkins of Boston, I believe. She's 17, practically an orphan (her mother is dead and her father just got remarried and doesn't care about his daughter), and is on an exchange program for the summer in a small French town. Her story is told in the form of her blogs from before her incident and then video diaries after the incident. She's writes awfully well and I doubt any of her peers read her blog because it would have bored them to tears. I had a hard time believing she was 17.
The characters in her story are the Blavette family, with whom she had been staying, and a weird kid named Freddie.
2) Molly Switch, podcast journalist, an American who was vacationing in Paris when Quinn's story broke. She's maybe plucky. Or she might be dumb. She has a lot of confidence in herself as well as plenty of American entitlement but then she second-guesses everything as she's doing whatever she's second-guessing. Being blonde, like Quinn, and American, she's able to pass as Quinn's aunt, thereby gaining access to Quinn's hospital room, while the girl is in a coma. The characters in her story are lonely chief inspector Valentin, with whom she shares a type of sexual tension I suppose, and her boss in America who keeps pushing her to scoop this story!

Quinn and Molly are supposed to be Americans but neither of them speak American. Their speech patterns are just enough off that I felt a sense of alienation from them both, from Quinn's overly-proper blog posts to Molly's colloquialisms, such as "I've had hangovers. Some were the mother and father of all hangovers, as they say."
I don't know who "they" are, but I don't know any native-born American speakers who say that.
She also carries a torch, as in a flashlight, and a penknife that picks locks. She was on "holiday" in Paris when Quinn's story went viral and she says she works for a "program," by which she means podcast, called "American Confessional."

The writing is frustratingly sloppy. I kept thinking this was a self-published book because of things like three sentence paragraphs that contained the word "hand" three times, though the hand was not at all important. There was a lot of that type of repetition. Also, there were sentences like this one, describing Molly's run-in with the old caretaker man on the Blavette's property:
I got out of the car and walked over and for a moment we stood and looked at each other, caught in the embarrassing freefall between people who never listen in language class.
I thought about that one for awhile. Was she thinking that since she slacked off in school, this caretaker did, too, and that's why he probably didn't know English? Only she hadn't said anything, yet, so there was no way he knew she spoke English. She's not in a city so there's no reason to think there's a good chance anyone she happens upon out here would be proficient in a second language. What the hell does language class have to do with the old guy and his pruning shears?
There was a lot of that kind of thing going on and it just added to my frustration. That frustration combined with boredom and a sense of irritation at a flimsy, loosely-woven set-up left me not caring at all about anything that was happening on page.

Like I said, I made it through 1/3 of the book and gave up. I hope the rest of you have much better luck reading this and that it turns out to be an interesting story.
Profile Image for switterbug (Betsey).
845 reviews808 followers
June 15, 2016
In this noir-ish mystery, a 17 year-old American exchange student, Quinn Perkins, stumbles out of the woods in a small, medieval-esque French village, bloodied and barefoot. She falls into a coma, and subsequently wakes up with no memory of the events that transpired. In fact, she remembers hardly anything about her life, her family, or her circumstances. An obscure Boston journalist, Molly Swift (sounds like a name for a series), pursues the story, with her background boss in the states urging her on. The family that Quinn is staying with, the Blavettes, are missing, which makes Quinn a suspect, witness, or victim in an unidentified crime.

The police have no leads. They ask Quinn to make an ongoing video diary of her thoughts/recall to help her memory return. In the non-linear approach to the story, we know from the opening pages that Quinn is out of her coma and trying to fill in the blanks. We get diary entries, but also entries from her pre-event blog, which are stored on her iPhone, along with other traces of her social media accounts and apps. This alternates with chapters on Molly, who has pretended to be the suspect’s aunt. Now, add a burnt out, stereotypical police detective and some secrets, lies, and a few sociopaths.

Ultimately, this was a mixed bag to me. What I admired about Horsely’s narrative, right from the start, was the tone and voice. These two components can make or break my initial absorption, the incipient lure that makes me want to stay. It is especially difficult when the story is about a teenager, but aimed at adults. Horsely applies a frank, observant approach with moody undertones, and keeps it taut. She also has a knack for teenage psychology--the earnest yet flirtatious and often quixotic nature of the questionably reliable narrator.

So--what is the downside?

The plot holes really distracted me. Just to capsulize without spoilers, the incompetence of evidence collection is of epic proportions, but too easily explained away. This was highly implausible for a carefully scrutinized international case that made daily headlines. And where are Interpol and the FBI?

Molly masquerades as Quinn’s relative, and nobody verifies her statement; they let this deceptive journalist saunter into the hospital room every day, without a hint of suspicion. This seemed more like Harriet the Spy meets the Keystone Kops, but without the intended campiness. And where are the expert analysts of social media? Yet, I kept reading, because, despite the author’s failure to stitch together a plausible investigation, there was an atmosphere of mystery and dread that pervaded the text, and a hint of disturbing disclosures to come.

I saw most of the climax coming a mile away, but I was often engaged, anyway, because of Horsely’s atmospherics and provocative adversity. For veteran mystery/thriller readers, however, don’t expect to be blown away. If adapted for film, the right director could clean it up and develop the edgier parts. I expect the author to evolve with future books, but this was a fair debut effort. Trite in parts, but the finale left an imposing image.
Profile Image for Danielle Urban.
Author 15 books144 followers
June 5, 2016


Can you imagine being a young teenager girl and a foreign exchange student who is staying with a family...next thing you realize is that you're in the hospital. They way you were found causes a stir among everyone. So many questions and no answers. Your memory is blank...all except for the memory of running away from something dangerous. Everything else is gone. An American teenager like Quinn Perkins becomes a victim and even played a bit in being a non-victim...she has been given a camera to help jog her memory by recording all that she does know as she remembers it. The media and public are after her for the disappearance of the family she stayed with...a journalist, Molly Swift soon becomes Quinn's only ally throughout the danger and helps solve the mystery. Quinn being accused, for murder, of each family member, leads Molly into digging deeper into the case to search for answers. But can she find them before it's too late and is she protecting a real victim or perpetrator? The American Girl by Kate Horsley is mysterious, thrilling, and highly entertaining.

The American Girl is so much like Gone Girl. I am not just saying that...the suspense and deep plot speak volumes. Instantly, I was pulled into the story and taken in by Quinn Perkins, the American girl. The story is fast-paced. Readers will find it being told by each of the characters perspectives. This just adds to the drama and intensity of the danger looming ahead. The truth is there yet so hard to reach...and once it's found everything fell together unleashed the devasting news on what really happened. The how and why of it all kept me on the edge of my seat. I was deeply entranced with this magnificent tale and I highly recommend it to readers everywhere. Kate Horsley is indeed a talented writer.
Profile Image for i..
331 reviews34 followers
February 6, 2017
This book reminded me of a summer I spent trying to learn French in France. I lived with a host family, went to lots of parties and to the swimming pool. I still remember the strong smell of Gauloises that everybody seemed to love,and of course the delicious baguettes.
My problem with this book is that it scared me, I like being intrigued but not frightened and unlike other readers who found it bland , I started thinking foolishly that it could have happened to me. If this is not your case, you will probably enjoy this book a lot.

By the way, my host parents were an adorable couple of retired shopkeepers !

Profile Image for ScifiMostTheTime.
24 reviews2 followers
July 29, 2016
Merde this was a good book. Kate Horsley has brought a slightly updated format to the story telling timeline that I personally enjoyed. Reading between past and present, but presented in a blog, video diary or narrated sequence was a nice change. This is one of the few times that, when a book jumps back and forth, it was easy to comprehend the timeline and current narrator/focus.

Read my full review here
Profile Image for Donna Wetzel.
374 reviews23 followers
June 21, 2016
Thanks Goodreads for my copy of the book The American Girl. This is one of those books that you won't figure out until the end. It kept teasing along, giving hints throughout. Good mystery.
Profile Image for Carlos.
621 reviews291 followers
June 24, 2017
4 1/2 stars ..... I was intrigued with this book since I started reading it and the tension kept all the way to the end . You are swept along with the events that are happening in the book, the responsibility of the "American girl" in the crime being investigated is purposely left vague throughout the book, you never know wether she is guilty or innocent all the way till the end of the book. The setting also helps the story , I mean who wouldn't want to investigate a crime while enjoying the sights in Paris, France . The reporter investigating the case does make some questionable choices (therefore my choice of not giving this book 5 stars) , but the book bounces back and keeps on the pressure, this is a fast paced book, you might even finish it in one day ... it is that good .... and also the way the book is set up would make for a good big screen adaptation... just saying.... recommend it is you are into thrillers and want a fast paced book.
Profile Image for Tammy .
946 reviews110 followers
July 7, 2016
I'm not sure if it is my book funk or what, but books lately just aren't appealing to me the same way they used to. I really had to push myself to finish The American Girl, and that was with a lot of skimming and walking away. I wanted to love this story. I wanted this to be one of those books I just couldn't put down until I had all the answers. Unfortunately, that didn't turn out to be the case with this one.

I love, love, love me a good psychological thriller; however, with this Kate Horsley's novel, I pretty much had the villain figured out from early on, which left The American Girl feeling predictable. The answers pretty much staring you in the face early on. I wouldn't classify this as a psychological anything, especially since there wasn't much of a mind f**k to it. When I compare this to other books I have read in this genre (Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, for example), it really fell flat in execution. There were no chills running up my spin, no goosebumps forming over my skin, and nothing really came as a shock or as an OMG she didn't just go there kind of twist. I can't even walk away saying I totally didn't see that coming.

On a positive note, the characters were well written, I will give the author that. I liked Quinn well enough and oddly, Molly as well. I love when an author can make me love an antihero (heroine). Molly's character held the most growth for me. Going from a downright dirty journalist, out to do whatever she can to get the story, to a person filled with compassion and humanity. Emilie grated on my nerves. She was the typical evil mother who favored one child over the other. Noe was probably my favorite. Yes, she could be a complete and utter bitch, but the reader soon learns that she is in actuality a very broken character. Don't take too much of her persona at face value, Noe has many hidden layers.

And this is where the beta reader in me came into play, which could have also been the issue. There were one too many plot holes. Either instances were wrapped up to easily, too quickly, or they were just left hanging in the wind. And although I enjoyed Molly's character, I found it hard to swallow that so many people took what she said at face value, no questions asked (e.g. being Quinn's aunt).

Overall, I was not a huge fan of this novel. I don't know if I would try another book by this author in the future.

Thank you, William Morrow, for the complimentary copy of The American Girl.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,471 reviews1,009 followers
August 26, 2016
The American Girl was a bang on psychological thriller, well told story with plenty of twists and the added advantage of not necessarily being predictable - and I liked the way the past/present vibe was used in this novel - a kind of found footage twist that worked very well.

The American Girl stumbles out of the woods one night and is immediately involved in an accident - remembering nothing of what has happened or the whereabouts of the family she was staying with the small community rallies around her. But the town itself has its secrets and soon the tables will turn.

I liked that Kate Horsley honed the backstory to perfection as we begin to find out what has lead up to recent events - I especially like the strands of the narrative that speak to a young girl spiralling somewhat out of control. The reporter who starts off looking simply for a story then ends up becoming emotionally involved added an extra layer that also added to the addictive nature of the storytelling.

Exploring some fairly modern themes - in this digital age if your life goes viral and the world is watching, just how do you cope with that - and the added mystery element of who what why and when just means that The American Girl works on several levels. Whilst it may be nothing entirely new it was one of those that held my interest throughout and was a pretty darned good read.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,461 reviews79 followers
August 11, 2016
Quinn Perkins expected her months as an exchange student in France to be an adventure and a learning experience. But instead it turned out to be a nightmare. At the end of July, the American is found injured and comatose after stumbling her way out of the woods and into the road. The family hosting her has been declared missing and Quinn, when she does awaken, has no memory of what's happened.

Molly Swift has been sent to France to cover Quinn's story. When she's mistaken as a relative of Quinn's, she's given exclusive access to the girl and her case. And even as guilt regarding her lies begins to weigh on her, she realizes she's Quinn's only real ally. This becomes even more true as the tide turns against the girl now at the center of everyone's attention.

Ooh, readers! I absolutely loved this book! The twists, the pacing, the characters, and the fabulous ominous tone that encompasses the whole thing made it oh so deliciously wonderful to dive into.

Quinn has amnesia. But we do have flashback chapters from her blog posts while she's been staying in France. And those posts show that all is definitely not sunny and fabulous with her host family.

If she's to be trusted, that is.

Chapters alternate between Quinn's present with the video journal her therapist has asked her to put together, Quinn's past - the blog posts mentioned above - and Molly Swift, a journalist who's task is basically to highlight cases in which the police have fumbled and proved to be inadequate.

Molly is an interesting character. She has a somewhat dark past, which means she's willing to do pretty much anything to get her story (breaking and entering especially). And she proves to be a good person for Quinn to have in her corner, even if she's gotten there by less than honest means. I kind of loved her and really loved seeing the story unfold through her eyes.

The American Girl is a wonderfully atmospheric thriller that will keep you guessing. I was glad it was a bit on the longer side, too, considering how much fun I was having trying to figure out where Horsley was taking Quinn and Molly next.
Profile Image for Nicki.
623 reviews2 followers
October 14, 2016
Quinn,an American exchange student stumbles out of the woods in France and is hit by a car.When she awakens in a hospital she insists that she has no memory of what has happened to her or her exchange family who have mysteriously disappeared.

Molly Swift,a journalist is intregued by the mystery of what happened to Quinn and is prepared to do anything to learn the truth.Then a shocking discovery is made,the town and media turn on Quinn and Molly is the only one left to unravel the mystery and clear Quinn's name but is she really innocent or is the amnesia all part of the plan of a cunning killer.

The American Girl is a intreguing mystery that is told in alternating points of view by Molly and Quinn.Molly's parts are all set in the present while Quinn's alternate between blog posts about her time with her exchange family The Blavettes and the events that led up to her stumbling out of the woods,video diaries that she records as time passes and she gets bits of her memory back and her interactions with Molly.

I liked Molly,she was a journalist who had a conscious,she started out just using Quinn but she ended up genuinely caring about her and wanting to help her clear her name.Quinn was a very mixed up young lady as we all are at her age,she made mistakes and got herself caught up in a situation that she had no control over.I'm sure many of us have been in situations where we have let our hearts overrule our heads although I don't think many of us have found ourselves going through what Quinn went through in this book.

It's a very good mystery with some interesting characters and settings,the descriptions of the creepy dark woods and caves really added a sense of menace and atmosphere to the story.The mystery of what happened to the Blavettes and if Quinn is involved or not is intriguing and you don't find out the truth until near the end of the book.I really enjoyed reading this and I hope that Kate Horsley is going to include Molly in another of her books in the future.

Many thanks to publishers Harper Collins UK/ Harper Fiction for a arc of this book via netgalley in exchange for a honest review
Profile Image for Deb.
1,226 reviews56 followers
August 9, 2016
I do like a dark and twisty psychological thriller and The American Girl definitely brings it to the page with plenty of twists and turns. I like the dual narrative of Molly and Quinn and how Quinn's parts are told through her past blog posts and the current video diary that the psychologist assigned to her has asked her to keep to hopefully prompt and record any of her reoccurring memories. Quinn is the unreliable narrator with her amnesia, but also because it isn't clear whether she is guilty or not. Molly is easier to like and trust--even with all of the lying she does to get close to Quinn and the fact that she works for an American tabloid news show. The story has that 'ripped from the headlines' vibe and definitely brings to mind the Amanda Knox case with Quinn being a young American, in a foreign country with the International media judging her on circumstances and her behavior.

Although it clocks in at 430+ pages, the alternating perspectives, short chapters and pacing kept it moving along and had me guessing and changing my mind about what the truth was. It also had me talking to (OK, maybe yelling at) the characters, "What are you doing?!"... "Don't do that/go there!"... "That's a really bad idea!" --which shows you how involved I got and how the creepy and foreboding tone sucked me in. This is Kate Horsley's second book, and based on this one, I downloaded her first, The Monster's Wife to read on my Kindle. If you are a fan of dark mystery-thrillers, add The American Girl to your summer reading list.

You can see my full review and a recipe inspired by the book on my Kahakai Kitchen blog post here: http://kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com/20...

Note: A review copy of "The American Girl" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Claire Wilson.
323 reviews13 followers
September 30, 2016
The American Girl by Kate Horsley is described as a disturbing and twisty psychological thriller and having just finished it, I can confirm that it is. At times, I found it hard to put down as I just wanted to get the to the bottom of the #americangirl. - 17 year old exchange student, Quinn Perkins who was living with a family in France until she was involved in a hit and run accident. Why was she running? Why has the family she was living with disappeared? 4 stars
Profile Image for Cynthia.
124 reviews2 followers
July 7, 2016
“The American Girl” by Kate Horsley is an intriguing thriller about American exchange student Quinn Perkins who gets wrapped up in the secrets of a small French town. The host family, the Blavettes, consist of a former school headmistress and mother of two teenage children – Noémie and Raphael.

This noir novel begins with Quinn running and stumbling out of the woods naked only to be hit by a car when she finally makes it to the road. The mystery around her appearance and the fact that she’s a foreign exchange student quickly creates buzz and makes headlines around the world, bringing journalist Molly Swift to town desperate for a scoop. Pretending to be Quinn’s aunt, Molly and Quinn bond and quickly develop a sort of closeness in which Molly anxiously tries to solve the case in hopes of absolving Quinn.

Consistently switching between Molly’s perspective and Quinn’s, as well as piecing together former posts from Quinn’s blog, the reader is given insight into what drives these two characters while trying to piece together the mystery of what happened to Quinn in the woods and why the Blavettes all disappeared.

One of the most interesting aspects is that this novel is inspired by a true-crime case making it that much more disturbing and realistic. In fact, just last week a 19-year old American exchange student was found dead in Rome (The Guardian). Horsley’s novel is not only relevant, but extremely disconcerting to think about because most people equate exchange programs with school, adventure, and opportunity. No one ever thinks about the potential dangers lurking in a foreign country surrounded by complete strangers.

From the style to the content, this book keeps you guessing until the very end and is a definite must-read for anyone who likes a good mystery.

For this post and more, please visit: https://thebookbasics.wordpress.com/
2 reviews
August 5, 2016
Kate Horsley's The American Girl is a sharply written, suspenseful psychological thriller set in a small town in the south of France. A teenaged American exchange student, Quinn Perkins, is in a coma, and the family she was staying with has disappeared. Could it be that Quinn herself is implicated? Molly Swift, an internet journalist, starts to investigate, becoming increasingly involved in Quinn's life - and in the questions surrounding her guilt or innocence.

Both characters are vividly created, and the mystery is sustained throughout. Horsley's novel has strong Gothic overtones and takes readers in dark, unexpected directions. A compelling, very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Nattie.
1,086 reviews19 followers
August 28, 2016
I didn't like this book. Sometimes books that are told from two perspectives work and sometimes they don't. It helps if the two characters are interesting. Quinn and Molly were both boring in my opinion, and the way Quinn's blog entries were written didn't make any sense to me.

Quinn constantly had conversations with other characters in the blog entries, who writes that way in a blog? It was as though the author was writing a typical first person narrative, but wanted to snazz it up by calling the chapters blog entries.

On the cover Megan Abbott says you simply can't put it down, but I didn't have any trouble doing just that.

9,969 reviews124 followers
June 30, 2016
Well written and it kept me guessing, which is a positive for a thriller. Quinn was an interesting character and I liked how we learned about her in a measured way. Molly not so much a nice person but a valid portrayal of a journalist going after what she believes will be a big story. I think Horsley has done a nice with this debut and commend her for the unique setting (assume she's spent time in the region). Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC- recommend if you like slow burn novels.
Profile Image for Katie.
287 reviews16 followers
August 8, 2016
This book started off strong but the plot and characters quickly become unbelievable. The characters are dull and unconvincing and full of cliches.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,231 reviews115 followers
July 14, 2016
It seem like a lot of the mystery novels I'm drawn to these days feature an unreliable narrator (or narrators in the case of The American Girl). Whether this is due to the success of novels like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train has encouraged publishers to jump on the unreliable narrator bandwagon or that it's just that I've become more aware of this particular narrative hook, I'm not sure.

What I do know is that, at this point, it takes a lot to make an unreliable narrator story stand out to me.

Kate Horsley's The American Girl was able to do that. Well, at least it was able to do that for the first hundred or so pages.

When exchange student Quinn Perkins comes stumbling out the woods, bloodies, barefoot and running toward a passing car, she becomes a viral sensation. But Quinn can't tell the police what happened to her or her host family, who have mysteriously vanished. Enter Molly Perkins, an ambitious podcasting journalist who sees Quinn as her next big story. Passing herself as Quinn's aunt, Molly begins to try to make sense of what happened to Quinn.

Told in alternating perspectives from Molly and Quinn, The American Girl unfolds like a noir thriller for its first hundred or so pages. Horsley gives us glimpses and hints of what's going to happen to Quinn from blog posts and transcriptions of video essays as Quinn tries to put her life back together. Molly's story is more straight-forward as she tries to fill in the gaps, building the trust of not only Quinn but also the chief investigator on the case.

It's once the novel hits its mid section that the story begins to feel like its treading water a bit. It could be that I started to piece together what was really going on with Quinn (before and after her memory loss) long before any one else did. Or it could be that the trick of using an unreliable narrator started to have me second-guessing everything we were being told by both narrators. As the adage on House goes, "Everyone lies" and that's certainly the case when it comes to Quinn and Molly.

The story picks up again in its final third as Horsley and her protagonists reveal what happened leading up to Quinn's emergence from the woods and its impact on the characters. But I still couldn't overcome the feeling that the story could have been fifty pages shorter and not diminished the impact or the eventual reveal of what really happened.

The biggest strength of The American Girl is Horsley's capturing of two different voices for her narrators. That strength kept me going through much of the middle section of the book where it felt like things were getting bogged down from not only the lack of any investigation by the police into Molly's claims to be Quinn's aunt to the feeling that the story is treading water a bit as it waits to make its final moves.

When it's on top of its game, The American Girl is a readable, entertaining thriller that kept me guessing as to what was going to come next until I turned the final page.

I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Teresa O.
160 reviews20 followers
September 23, 2016
Quinn is a seventeen year old exchange student who is spending the summer in France with her host family the Blavette's. Everything seems fine at first, but then as Quinn starts to realize all is not as it seems with the Blavette family and longs to be back home in America, events take a sinister twist.

Quinn is discovered in a confused and bloodied state after being knocked down one night, fleeing the woods. Taken to hospital Quinn doesn't know who she is or what happened that night to cause her to run blindly into the road. Most disturbing of all, the Blavette's have disappeared without trace and no-one in the small French town appears to know what has happened to them.

In steps Molly Swift, an undercover journalist who soon forms a bond with Quinn, as they both try to find out the truth of what happened that fateful night. While the police believe Quinn is not what she seems and appear to suspect her of murder, Molly fully believes Quinn is telling the truth, and is prepared to sacrifice her fledgling romance with the handsome French police detective, in order to prove Quinn's innocence.

This was a great read. I really enjoyed it. A real psychological thriller, that had me gripped from the start. Full of twists and turns, it was hard to know who to believe as everyone seemed to have secrets they wanted to hide.

I especially enjoyed the character of Molly Swift and would love to see this book as the first in a series with Molly as the protagonist, investigating crime in her unconventional way.

Kate Horsley is definitely an author I will be watching out for. I can't wait to read her next novel.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher HarperCollins UK for my free e-ARC in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
565 reviews18 followers
January 1, 2017
Whew! This story is the definition of a page turner!

Quinn is a 17 year old American exchange student spending time in a small French town. One fateful morning, she comes walking out of the woods scared, bloody, and unable to remember what led her there. To top it off, her host family has mysteriously disappeared. Is Quinn responsible, or does it have something to do with the small town’s sinister secrets? Desperate for answers and a shocking story, the media descends upon the town. Among the reporters is American, Molly Swift, who will do anything to get to the bottom of it, including getting way too involved and telling lie after lie.

I really, really enjoyed this one. It was creepy, mysterious, and incredibly fast paced. The viewpoints alternated between Quinn and Molly, and was told in several formats: blog posts from Quinn leading up to the incident, video diaries from Quinn AFTER the incident, and Molly’s viewpoint in the present. I enjoyed seeing what happened before and what happened after and trying to unravel the mystery and the secrets of the town. I was shocked again and again.

To say that this story is intriguing would be an understatement. I was sucked in from the get-go and felt an unrelenting need to know what was happening. I’m pretty sure I made that “WHAAAAT?” face several times while reading… you know the one. I found myself constantly second guessing what I thought was going on and was continually puzzled.

I’d highly recommend this one to fans of mysteries and thrillers — it kept me up late into the night reading on more than one occasion!
Profile Image for 2OCC Reviews.
3,454 reviews241 followers
October 3, 2016
This psychological thriller set in France is a stay up all night with the light s on kind of read. From the beginning I was a fan. It is a riveting read that will have you telling all of your friends about it. It starts out with a hit and run and doesn’t slow down from there.

The town is an idyllic little mountain town in France and Quinn is an exchange student there who just wants to get along with the family she is staying with and be a normal teenager. She starts receiving these awful pictures and videos and she wonders if someone is out to get her. At this time, everything else starts to fall apart. She is trying to remember how she wound up in the hospital and her host family went missing. As she pieces everything together we get to see the seedy corrupt town for what it is and it makes me second guess everything.

This is a who done it kind of story that had me in its thrall since the opening scene and as you follow the trail of breadcrumbs her recovered memory leaves for you start to question everything and anyone. I was completely taken for a ride while reading this and I for the life of me couldn’t figure out how this was going to end. As I finished this book I sat in awe, in shock at what I had just experienced. I was scared and excited and certainly confused, exactly what I have come to expect of this genre. This book should be THE book we talk about when we talk about things that make us sleep with the light on.
Profile Image for Jackie Rogers.
1,164 reviews13 followers
July 10, 2016
This novel is full of creepy, evil, and fear. Quinn Comes to France as an exchange student from USA. Her Mom is dead and her dad has a new wife and baby on the way which leaves Quinn out in the cold. The French family she is stayin with is nuts and involved in crime. Is filled with poor judgement on young girls doings and their death in some cases. Holds ones attention attempting to figure out who has done what. Enter an American journalist that pretends to be Quinn's aunt and wants to help the girl who has lost her memory. Has cops on the take, mob crime and pure hatred. You will like it. Comes out in August by Kate Horsley. Thanks to Goodreads.
463 reviews24 followers
August 20, 2016
The story line unfolds continually, to the point that in the final 100 pages it has taken you many more miles than you expected based on the first 100 pages. Characters and plot are predictably unpredictable; right when you think you know something, much more is revealed that was unexpected.

There were a few points in the story that were perplexing, such as why a certain character's physical injuries would not have prevented them from doing the things they were doing.

The book is presented in a combination of flashbacks and real time, so the reader must stay on thier toes. Overall, a very enjoyable read with good visuals.
Profile Image for Kristy.
689 reviews4 followers
October 1, 2016
Just a BAD book. The writing was terrible, the story unbelievable, plot rambled, and the "mystery" wasn't very mysterious. Seriously, how the hell have so many people given this book 4 and 5 stars?! It reads like a story written by a teenager for a creative writing class...and they didn't get a very good grade. I struggled from the beginning to get through it and by the end was just skimming pages .
Profile Image for ᒪᗴᗩᕼ .
1,562 reviews152 followers
December 12, 2020
❐ Overall Rating 4 | Narration 4½
❐ Narrated by Julia Whelan & Nan McNamara
❐ Listening time: 11H 15M
❐ Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
❐ With a splash of Horror
❐ Amnesia/Unreliable Narrator
❐ Set in small-town France


I found this to be intriguing, sometimes a little creepy even, unpredictable, and definitely a little weird at times. Also, I believe the nearly excellent narration made this somewhat slow-burning mystery overall more palatable. If I had read this instead, I don't think I could've been as engaged with the way the mystery was fed to me by the tiny, tiny spoonful.

Profile Image for David Cranmer.
Author 22 books23 followers
September 19, 2016
This is a psychological story with drops of horror mingled in—reminding me of past masters like Shirley Jackson and Richard Matheson, though, perhaps not as outwardly horrific. (There are hair-raising passages of Quinn investigating a gothic-style school closed due to a suspicious death.) But, like said writing legends, Ms. Horsley knows how to drag you down the trigger warning-laced passageways, crafting excitement the old-fashioned way—with gripping dialog and interpersonal relationships bludgeoned under layers of mystery.

Major points to Ms. Horsley for traversing social networking, invasive media, and eye-witness accounts of Quinn Perkins. And, the more we hear through these various sources, the less we understand, as it should be with an intellectual riddle whose ending I didn’t thoroughly guess.

Read my expanded review at Criminal Element http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/....
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