THE ROANOKE GIRLS by Amy Engel

THE ROANOKE GIRLS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Whole lotta dead girls in this rural Kansas family.

Lane Roanoke returns to the farm where she grew up after her grandfather calls to say her cousin Allegra is missing. The two were raised by their grandparents because their mothers were either dead or “gone,” as are all their aunts, great-aunts, and a cousin. “Roanoke girls never last long around here,” explains Allegra when Lane arrives at age 15, shortly after her mother’s suicide. “In the end, we either run or we die.” You won’t be left wondering what the source of the problem is. As Lane says to her “fiercely handsome” grandfather soon after her return, “Well, you’d be the one to know…. You were screwing her.” Since Allegra had the habit of carving words into the furniture and woodwork, Lane is certain she will find a clue somewhere if she looks hard enough. And she does! RUN LANE is carved into the abandoned vanity in Allegra's bedroom! Instead of taking that advice, she spends the rest of the book hanging around the incest ranch with her horrific grandparents, meeting up with her old running buddies in town, and ripping off her pants here and there for an old flame. Lane eventually finds the key to Allegra’s fate in a ludicrous way, at which point a back story so nefarious it’s almost funny comes spilling out. In her acknowledgments, the author thanks her grandparents for showing her the joys of small-town life, but, unfortunately, the book traffics in the most vicious stereotypes and rumors about the people who live it. That includes the old boyfriend she hooks up with, an auto mechanic brutally abused by his auto mechanic father; the dumb but loyal local cop; and, most problematically, Lane herself. She's beautiful, trashy, and full of self-loathing, which she works hard to deserve but which fails to make her an interesting character.

Sordid, unrealistic, and unredeemed.

Pub Date: March 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-101-90666-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2016




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