Trudi's Reviews > The Longings of Wayward Girls

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen  Brown
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2013, arc, netgalley, on-my-kobo, crime-mystery, secrets, love-the-title, all-in-the-family, mothers, prose-that-sings, girls-behaving-badly
Recommended for: Fans of Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn


There's a buzz book for the summer - you might have heard of it already -- The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. Featuring a time traveling serial killer, it has huge potential for a beach read thriller, but I don't know. Despite enjoying the main character, I felt it was missing something and my overall reaction after reading it was lukewarm.

This book on the other hand is much more to my liking. Probably closer to three and a half stars, it's an easy four in my books because it features all the elements I adore -- suburban New England setting, family secrets and lies, prepubescent girls doing naughty things with tragic consequence. It's an "all grown up and looking back" story as the adult tries to untangle the mysterious events of a dark childhood summer. It's a dual narrative that flips back and forth in time -- from the summer of 1979 to the summer of 2003. There's mood and atmosphere and dread and intrigue. It's a voyeuristic look into the oft-twisted and inappropriate shenanigans of life in the 'burbs.

Sadie is a pushy, bratty kid, with razor sharp smarts and a vivid imagination that's only going to get her into trouble. Her mother is a domineering, manic depressive drunk who isn't going to be there for Sadie when she needs her the most. Out of boredom and as an act of rebellion, Sadie hatches an elaborate ruse to amuse herself and her best friend. It's the summer of 1979 and her victim is the neighborhood outcast, a young girl with a miserable home life. The consequences of this cruel prank will have a tragic ripple effect.

Sadie grows up. The memory of that time is locked away in a deep, dark corner of her mind. She has a husband and two beautiful children. But sorrow has found Sadie. She is grieving her miscarriage and in this vulnerable state, back walks the boy she crushed on as a young girl. He's all grown up and stirring up more than the overwhelming sexual attraction she feels for him. Sadie begins to think about that summer long ago, seeking truth to all the unanswered questions she's lived with her entire life.

For a debut novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls (great title) shows a lot of promise. In the best ways, I was reminded of Megan Abbott's The End of Everything, and Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects. Author Karen Brown is on my radar now and I will definitely be seeking out more of her writing.

This review also posted to Shelf Inflicted.
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Reading Progress

May 21, 2013 – Started Reading
May 21, 2013 – Shelved
May 24, 2013 –
page 100
29.76% "This one now has me totally engrossed. I am ensnared by the silken web its author's spinning."
May 24, 2013 –
page 229
68.15%
May 25, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Robert (last edited Jun 05, 2013 09:06AM) (new) - added it

Robert You certainly have me even more intrigued. I'll have to keep my eye out for this one. Glad to hear you were able to snag an early review copy. Maybe Washington Square Press actually heard me when I told my wife I often feel like I have more passion than sense when it comes to reviewing...


message 2: by Bill (new)

Bill Okay, you sold me...


Trudi Bill wrote: "Okay, you sold me..."

I think you might like this one Bill. It has some of the shortcomings to be expected in a debut novel, but overall it's very strong. I was completely engrossed the entire time.


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill Thanks Trudi, I will read this one soon. I keep grabbing new books instead of sticking to my to-read list!


message 5: by Cara (new)

Cara Anything that draws parallels with Gillian Flynn's work is a must-read for me!


Trudi Allthings wrote: "Anything that draws parallels with Gillian Flynn's work is a must-read for me!"

Me too! I wished she published faster but I respect her dedication to her craft and that it's about more than just churning out the next bestseller.


Shay Caroline Okay, fiiine, write a much better review of this book than I did, see if I care! ;-)


message 8: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Enjoyed your take on this one, Trudi.


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