Julie's Reviews > Girls

Girls by Frederick Busch
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bookshelves: 2017, e-book, mystery-shelf, overdrive, suspense

Girls: A Novel by Frederick Busch is a 2011 Ballantine publication.

This is an older novel, which was recommended to me from a book group I decided to join.

The synopsis sounded different, but promising-

While the book is absorbing in many ways, the focus is mostly centered on Jack and Fanny’s relationship and grief and less on the missing girls for the most part. The last quarter of the book does begin to concentrate on that thread more, but the relationship issues are still overpowering.

As the story progresses, it becomes darker and very disturbing. I found some of the subject matter and thought processes of the main characters very concerning.


Jack and Fanny lost their only child and are trying unsuccessfully to hold their marriage together. Along the way, Jack gets sucked into the disappearance of a teenage girl from a neighboring town. He is asked to help the girl’s family cope with the grief, but he also decides to do a little investigating on his own.

The deep winter climate adds a more sinister and bleak atmosphere to a story that is already pretty gloomy. The mood never lifts, even once the questions are answered.

The personal dramas was drawn out far longer than it should have been which compromised the level of suspense, and the subdued tone may have backfired a little in this case.

Despite that, I still felt exhausted by the time I got to the end of the book. The slow pacing, the agonizingly slow trickle of information, and the desolate note the story ended on left me feeling somber and a little disappointed at some of the personal developments.

The writing is jarring, almost disorganized, if that makes any sense, and took me out the story at times.

I can see why this book would make a good book club read, however, as there are quite a few conflicting characterizations and actions that are slightly controversial and could spark a little healthy debate or conversation, which is the redeeming quality of this book, and is the reason for bumping my rating up a notch.


2.5 stars

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Reading Progress

February 20, 2017 – Started Reading
February 20, 2017 – Shelved
February 20, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
February 20, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017
February 20, 2017 – Shelved as: e-book
February 20, 2017 – Shelved as: mystery-shelf
February 20, 2017 – Shelved as: overdrive
February 20, 2017 – Shelved as: suspense
March 4, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Norma * Traveling Sister Sorry this wasn't all that good of a read Julie but wonderful review! :)


Julie Norma wrote: "Sorry this wasn't all that good of a read Julie but wonderful review! :)"
Thank you, Norma! It goes that way sometimes.


message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Well, the cover was great. :\


Julie Mary wrote: "Well, the cover was great. :\"

The cover art is pretty interesting, now that you mention it.


message 5: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Bummer . . . slow pacing can be a killer and to feel exhausted by the end . . . that sucks. Great review though, Julie.


Julie Melissa wrote: "Bummer . . . slow pacing can be a killer and to feel exhausted by the end . . . that sucks. Great review though, Julie."

Thanks, Melissa!!


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