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The Girl Before

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  16,125 ratings  ·  1,505 reviews
In this powerful psychological suspense debut, when a woman’s life is shattered, she is faced with a devastating question: What if everything she thought was normal and good and true . . . wasn’t?

Clara Lawson is torn from her life in an instant. Without warning, her home is invaded by armed men, and she finds herself separated from her beloved husband and daughters. The l
Paperback, 314 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Ruth Yes!!! I gave it 5 stars and then went looking to see what other books there were by this author!
Amanda Yes, but why is that a deal breaker? Sounds like a great way to miss out on a lot of amazing books, to me.

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  16,125 ratings  ·  1,505 reviews

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A story of extreme manipulation, degradation, brain-washing and willful ignorance - this was a tough read at times, or in my case, a tough listen.

What started off with a shocking opening - a door being knocked down, a husband arrested and a wife sequestered in an institution - ended on a flat and sort of dragged out note. This is the harrowing, and somewhat far-fetched, story of a woman forced to see the reality of the life she's been living and the man she adores.

I loved the whole premise of t
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, suspense
I had a hard time tearing myself away from this book and was really annoyed when I had to go about doing adult things instead of finishing this right away.

This is certainly a powerful story about the horrors of human trafficking. What I liked about how the story unfolded is that this focused more on the mental and physical abuse that takes place to 'train and control' the victims instead of capitalizing on the sex acts like some authors do for the shock value.

The story bounces back and forth bet
Apr 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I received a copy of The Girl Before by Rena Olsen through NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you to G. P. Putnam and to Rena Olsen for the opportunity.

Clara Lawson is terrfied at the sound of gunfire and men breaking into her home. She had been lost in reverie as she brushed little Daisy's hair. But now this mundane act of hairbrushing is cast aside as Clara and Daisy crouch down trembling inside a dark closet. No little "hidey hole" for these two. The jig is up.....

Clara is taken to an inve
Wendy Darling
Dear Penguin,

It's no exaggeration to say that you've been, as a whole, my favorite publisher for my entire reading life. Your G.P.Putnam's Sons imprint has also published many distinguished authors and books, among them the classic LORD OF THE FLIES and Liane Moriarty, one of my recent favorites.

How disappointing it is, therefore, to find a book like THE GIRL BEFORE in your slate this year. The premise for this thriller is intriguing--a young woman finds out her husband is not what she thought-
Diana | Book of Secrets
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ugh, so disturbing! THE GIRL BEFORE is a great read though, hard to put down. It's not a typical suspense novel, as it's clear up front what's going on. However, the story flipping between "Now" and "Then" creates some amazing tension, fear almost, about what horror will be revealed next.

Clara is a frustratingly naive character, refusing to believe the obvious when it was right in front of her. As Clara tells her story, it's up to the reader to decide if she was a victim, perpetrator, or a bit o
In her debut novel The Girl Before, Rena Olsen has created a heroine who is living a life she thinks is absolutely normal and then is abrubtly and coldly confronted with reality. It is a suspenseful but quiet thriller, and the writing style created a mysterious tone as it caused me to wonder about all that I couldn't see from the heroine: Clara's POV. The alternating past and present timeframes captured Clara's functioning beautifully and I found it effortless to find investment in her character ...more
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
This novel is a psychological thriller. I wish I could go into more detail about the book, but you will thank me that I did not!
Claire Lawson’s home is invaded and she is arrested along with her husband Glenn. She has been instructed to say nothing to the police by Glenn and her mother-in-law. The police need her assistance to put her husband and others behind bars. Claire is devoted to her husband and wants nothing more than to protect him. She misses her family and wants to go back to her form
THE GIRL BEFORE left me an emotional wreck. I dove into this having a vague idea of the premise, but was surprised that this wasn't so much of a "thriller" for me as it was of one woman's journey to healing. Which made it all the more 'enjoyable', I suppose. This isn't really type of story one would enjoy, but it's a necessary tale of survival & reality of what happens under noses, plus, I'm a sucker for all that psychology. (I think when I looked at it from that angle, it was easier to just vie ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not sure why this one just didn't do it for me. It isn't that the writing was terrible-it wasn't, but something about it was majorly lacking.
A lot of the time it was so straight forward what an entire scene was going to be that I was tempted to just skim and jump through.
It didn't ever shock me or surprise me and the entire story felt like it was obvious and everything played out exactly the way you'd expect it to, once you understand the circumstance.
You know when someone is talking and they'
Lyn❤Loves❤Listening #AUDIOBOOKADDICT
Audio...4.5 stars
Story...3.5 stars

Really interesting story, but the writing could have been better. Thankfully, the audio made it tolerable.
This is a fantastic read with a rich leading character and deep and emotional story set among two timeliness crashing against one other like waves seeking a dominant truth.

Clara Lawson’s life is torn apart when her home is stormed by police, she’s separated from her husband, Glen, and their daughters without reason. No goodbyes, no last minute words of assurances, just guns, harsh words and quick movements. In a frenzied blur, she’s taken away and questioned everything – her name, where she live
Keira Drake
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Rena Olsen writes with an incredibly sophisticated understanding of character and circumstance--she illuminates all the grey in a world we would prefer to be black and white. I have never read anything like this: the subject matter is difficult, disturbing, and uncomfortable. The characterizations are rich and full; it’s the kind of book where you feel like you are reading about real people right from the beginning—there is no artifice. And the plotting in this story…everythi
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I found this book to be a moving experience, but given the subject matter it was also, at time, quite confronting.

Clara Lawson, in her early twenties, seems to have, by her standards, the perfect life, that was until her home is raided one day by the FBI. She is taken from her home, and the girls she calls her daughters, and is placed in a secure psychiatric hospital.

At a loss to know what is going on she refuses to talk to the FBI agents. Slowly but surely Clara comes to realise that her perfec
Crime by the Book
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a SOLID 4/5 star read. Seriously, I cried in public at the ending, that's how good it is. It was nothing that I expected in SUCH a great way. This psychological suspense novel tackles topics of abusive relationships and emotional trauma with a compassion and sensitivity that speaks to the author's personal background and professional training. An excellent, excellent read - totally immersive and gripping. Full review coming on CBTB!! ...more
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime-mystery
This started out strong. I was settling into it with eager anticipation. But the suspense was not sustained in the middle. It felt like a really long game of musical chairs, where the music never stops and you just have to keep marching around the chairs. There was so much repetition, (never a good thing).

There were also contradictions regarding the MC. Her actions did not always match up to what I was given to know about her. She was naive, yet she knew worldly things. She was weak, but she wa
Zuky the BookBum
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, made-me-cry, 5-stars
Read my first ever author Q&A, with Rena Olsen!

Also read my review here:

I am nothing if not obedient.

I was anticipating this novel for a goddamn long time and so when it finally showed up at work (I’d preordered it months in advance) I was so excited to finally get my hands on it and start reading it and from page 1 it did not disappoint! This novel got more and more gripping with each page, I didn’t want to pu
Aug 25, 2016 rated it liked it
The Girl Before by Rena Olsen is a suspense thriller from beginning to end. It is about Clara’s life before she was taken as a small child and her life now. This story is not for the faint of heart as even though it is told with not a lot of detail as to what is happening it is still clear there is abuse against women taking place. Clara lives the life she has been conditioned to live and when she is forced to confront reality and what she thought was her life she has a hard time accepting who s ...more
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psych-thriller
Fantastic premise but it was too unrealistic and glossed over too many details. Felt very YA in tone, plot and dialogue.
When I started listening to this audiobook, having not read any reviews, I was confused about the plot. I then read Linda’s review and a lightbulb popped into my head and realized it was about human trafficking. This wasn’t the plot I was looking for but I read (listened) on.

During a police raid Clara and her husband, Glen, are yanked from their home while Glen warns her to say nothing. Clara is unmercifully interrogated about her husband but she never breaks. Clara’s story moves from Then to No
Although The Girl Before was downright disturbing, I tore through it, needing to know more. The then and now chapters were an absolute joy - though I'm a total sucker for past/present narratives. Watching the events of Clara's past unfold and slowly piece together had me glued to the page and as she eventually reached an understanding about the truth of Glen's business, well... hard to read as it was, I couldn't look away. There's an awful lot to discuss regarding human trafficking and abduction ...more
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
I need to pick up all my feelings from the floor and put myself back together again after finishing this book. It touches on the very deep subject matter of human trafficking and Stockholm Syndrome. Done in very short chapters of Then and Now, the author does a fantastic job of putting you inside the head space of Diana/Clara as she has only known one life that she can remember, and as she unfolds into an adult who learns her entire life has been a lie.

"Every choice is an intricate result of ma
Laura Rash
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a complex & emotional story. I liked the switching of time periods. Very well written.
ELLIAS (elliasreads)

It was boring.

I felt like the main character was really naïve? Like take the main character and the word naïve and you got Bambi on The Nightmare on Elm Street.

This book is basically about a woman whose life gets interrupted when a group of people burst into her house and arrest her and her husband. They place her in a different location where they begin to question her about the hubby's work and 'she must not say anything'.

Sounds like a great mystery, right?

Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
This book was disturbing, captivating, moving and frightening! The story alternates between then and now, showing us the evil in some, but also the good in others and the constant struggle between the two. It surly leaves you emotionally drained.
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

THE GIRL BEFORE is a riveting complex psychological suspense debut by Rena Olsen, where lines are blurred, between victim and perpetrator, from then and now.

A well-written, disturbing portrayal of human trafficking, the haunting damage-and the road to acceptance, healing, and recovery.

As the novel opens, Clara Lawson is separated from her daughters and husband. This is not an ordinary home invasion or
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was really hard to rate this book, mainly because it had ALMOST everything a thriller should have. Perfect pacing, consistency but one thing that lacked was the characterization. While the plot was luring and intriguing,it was not enough for me to rate the book higher. The character of Clara was flawed, I liked reading about how she did not know why she was taken hostage, Also I like knowing about the cause and effect of why she was taken, her mate telling her to not say anything and how the ...more
Book Riot Community
Told through shifting episodes between present and past, The Girl Before recounts the arrest and investigation of Clara Lawson’s role as a mother figure in a human trafficking operation. Scenes of interrogation, individual and group therapy sessions, and flashbacks reveal Clara’s training to be an ideal mistress for a wealthy client, a plan that is derailed by her growing relationship and eventual marriage to the heir to the trafficking business. Complicating the investigation is Clara’s dual ro ...more
(somewhere between 3 and 4 stars; may change it later)

The book opens with Clara being taken from her family. By page 2, it’s obvious that she’s been rescued from a human trafficking operation, and she’s been completely brainwashed by these people. I was afraid that knowing all that would detract from the story, but it was still pretty engaging. As I went along, it got harder and harder to put down. Clara gradually recognizes the lies she’s been living and begins to heal.

The book switches between
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4,5 stars rounded up to 5.
I thouroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The narrator did such an amazing job! This also worked perfectly as an audio,I think it made me get even more into the mind of the main character. That's where this book really excelled - the way the author gets into the mind of someone who has gone through horrible things and has lived in a lie her whole life. It was very beliveable,you could almost forget that you're listening to a novel and not a real person telling her story.

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