After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away. Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again. As it weaves between Lane s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.
The Roanoke Girls had been on my radar for so many months! That beautiful cover, the intriguing blurb, the glowing reviews… It was one of my most anticipating reads and I couldn’t wait to finally get to it. I’m proud to say that it didn’t disappoint… but it wasn’t what I was expecting at all.
I guess I thought this would be some kind of domestic-psychological thriller, but I was so incredibly wrong. The Roanoke Girls had me hooked from the very first page with its simple yet beautiful writing. This is a deeply disturbing book about a very special family: the Roanokes. There are family secrets and a bit of mystery, but this is mostly a family saga that tells us the twisted tale of Lane, Allegra and all the other Roanoke girls.
Don’t expect a big twist… I had read many reviews and I suspected what it was about before I even started to read it. Turns out I was right, but the book actually makes it obvious from the very first chapters, so you don’t need to worry if you think you know “the secret”. This doesn’t mean the book is boring or predictable, because it isn’t. At all. It’s actually a highly gripping read: short, fast-paced and completely unputdownable.
“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”
The structure was perhaps what made it so unique and enjoyable. Lane is our main narrator and we get to follow her steps THEN (her first time in Roanoke) and NOW (when she finally returns, eleven years later). But that’s not it. Every few chapters, we discover what happened to each one of the previous Roanoke Girls. And what we find out it’s not pretty…
Fortunately, the ending wasn’t as depressing as I thought it would be, as it was hopeful and beautiful at the same time. I’m a sucker for unhappy endings, but this time I think the characters deserved something different. I would recommend this book to those who aren’t easily impressionable. The topic is quite disturbing and it’s one of those novels that you never know if your friends are going to enjoy or not. I think it was amazing; but then again, I’m kind of weird sometimes 😉
Netgalley – Crown, 2017