The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After her mother's death, Lane Roanoke spent a summer with family in rural Kansas. Now, years later, her cousin Allegra is missing and Lane goes back to Kansas to figure out what happened and face the events of the summer that changed her life...
I saw the title Roanoke Girls being thrown around but I knew nothing about the book when it went on sale for $2.99. Going in cold made it all the better.
The Roanoke Girls is part mystery, part horrible coming of age tale. Lane Roanoke is a damaged limb on a diseased family tree, trying to forget the events of the summer after her mom died. When her cousin Allegra goes missing, Lane has to face the music.
Much like Tampa, this will be a polarizing book. Also, much like Tampa, it's compulsively readable, a trainwreck on the page. The best villains aren't the scene-chewing maniacs. They're the ones convinced what they're doing is right. The Roanoke Girls shares that with Tampa as well.
The writing style reminds me of Megan Abbott, and the subject matter as well. The story is told in two threads: the summer after Lane's mother's death and her return to Kansas to find out what happened to Allegra. In both of them, Lane turns over rocks to see the horrors lurking underneath, horrors she's tied to by blood and more.
The way Lane handles relationships keeps the story going even when nothing much is happening. She's damaged by her past relationships and can't help but wreck her current ones. She's a sympathetic figure, even when she's being a bitch.
The mystery wasn't all that complex but it was fun seeing Lane connect the dots. Like I said, the book was really hard to put down. I read it in two long sittings.
I was tempted to give it five stars but little things about it bugged me. Do women talk about boobs so much? Also, I'm pretty sure it's impossible to shoot a hole in a metal sign with a BB gun. And I wish certain parties would have suffered much worse fates. Other than that, I can't think of anything to bitch about. I loved the small town setting, the mystery, pretty much the whole thing.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
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