Wednesday, June 22, 2016

THE GIRLS IN THE GARDEN BY LISA JEWELL - BLOG TOUR + BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

Today, I am partnering with Simon and Schuster and some other bloggers in the Summer Fiction Blog Tour to bring you all a bunch of highly anticipated books of the year, over the course of 5 weeks with 5 different bloggers!


This week, we are all sharing our reviews of The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I really wanted to love this book. I did like it, but it wasn't the book I thought it was going to be.

This book is broken down into two, possibly four parts. I know, I'll explain in a minute. First, we get a short prologue. This is where we learn that a young girl, Grace, is found in the dark, by her sister, Pip, in the secluded private park they live on, unconscious and bloodied. This is one of those books where the main event is given away at the very beginning, and then you try and figure out who's responsible throughout the rest.

Anyway, after the prologue, we get the "Before" section. This explains the backstory to how the girls and their mother came to move to this area, as well as looking at the lives of the neighbours who also live around the park. The story is told in a few different third person perspectives, Pip, Clare (the girls mother), a neighbour, Adele, along with a couple others. We learn some secrets about these people and of the park, where a young girl was killed many years ago. There are a few key "suspects" that at least ran through my head, but I was a little weary to truly blame them, because they seemed like the obvious choices. All this "Before" section culminates to the annual summer party, the night Grace is found.

After the "Before" is, obviously, the "After." The police get involved, people are questioned, etc. I don't want to give too much away, because this is where things start to click together. At the end of this "After" chapter, it is 'revealed' who harmed Grace. I'll explain why I say 'revealed' in quotes in a second.

There is also a short section on "Ten Months Later" that tells what has happened to the girls and the neighbourhood so many months after the tragedy.

As I said earlier, I liked this book. I thought the writing was very enchanting, and the story felt very rich and almost dream-like (or it could be I was a little bit tired when I started it :) ). I liked the characters, and how each family was so different. Clare and her girls were close, but not suffocatingly so. Meanwhile, Adele and her husband Leo homeschooled their three girls, and were a very dysfunctional, strange family. I also really enjoyed the concept of the communal park surrounded by houses, in one of Pip's letters to her father, she draws a very charming picture of what everything looks like. Even though there are dark secrets in the park, it is still a very integral part of their little community and way of life.

Now, I also didn't love this book. And that is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, most of the book is the "Before" section. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the backstory and everything, but I just kind of felt like it was dragging on. This book is definitely a slow burn. And I don't know if it's just because you know the major event at the beginning, but I felt like it didn't really build to anything. We knew what was going to happen, we just didn't know who. And really, while the "Before" is good to arouse some suspicions, it didn't really make me want to keep reading until I found out who was responsible.

I also didn't love this book because of the ending. We get hundreds of pages on the "Before," we finally find out who did it, and then we find out that they couldn't have done it by themselves, but let's not worry about it. They just kind of give up. Already this book didn't have a ton of build up giving away the big event right away, but then the assailant is 'revealed' to the reader but not really the characters, and then in the last two pages we find out that someone else was involved too. And then the book ends. I'm imagining this story in my mind as a firecracker exploding, and then just gradually falling back down and burning out. A lot happened at the beginning and then not really anything.

I think part of my problem with this book as well was the hype. So many people are raving about it, but I just don't think it lives up to the hype. As much as I wanted to love it, I'm thinking that even 3 stars is too generous.

Stay tuned for next week's review of All the Missing Girls! And don't forget to check out the Simon and Schuster's Read Chill Repeat website for more info and to enter for a chance to win a set of books + one year of free coffee from Aroma Espresso Bar!