The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Entering the pages of this book felt like opening a world of tragedy and distress. The story is without a doubt the most horribly enticing tale I've ever read. It tops the charts of weird, repulsive, and yet I found myself unable to stop reading. The Roanoke Girls are the girls no one cannot not love, the ones that boys adore and girls envy. Yet no one knows what really goes inside the Roanoke house except for the Roanoke Girls and this secret is what leads them all to their death bed or to their escape.
Amy Engel narrates the life of Lane Roanoke both as a 15 year old girl and a grown woman. Both tales of her life are told in the same creepy setting: Roanoke. After her unloving mother's suicide, Lane is sent off to live with her grandparents and her cousin Allegra. Allegra is a really unique character, she maintains her personality through all the book. Her quirky and selfish way of acting is an aspect that does not seem to change. Lane discovers the secret that caused her mother to kill herself, her aunt to escape and she cannot bear it leaving Roanoke at the young age of 16. Years later, Allegra has disappeared and believing she owes her one for leaving her behind decides to come back to the root of her nightmares.
This book perturbed me in every single way. Spoiler alert: The Roanoke girls all screw their grandfather, or father (since they all get pregnant of him). I made the connection as the twin is telling her story and I was deeply astounded. To say the least, the book escalated farther quickly. I found it disgusting, yes, however something about the way the story was written, the true innocence of all the manipulated Roanoke girls that left we wanting to finish the story. I didn't know that I would be so captivated by such a tragic story. A story that leaves you with a feeling of dread.
The characters, all of them (even the one that seem the nicest like Tommy and her goody two shoes wife), are dark. All of them hide something, all of them demonstrate the primitive human mind. How each and everyone of us is selfish and perturbed in some way. All of them have traumas, and living in such a small town all of them do not seem able to get out. I was glad that at the end Lane was able to break the repetition of rape, even though they all claimed the love was mutual, and manipulation. She was a brave and insightful character, messed up just like all the other but I believe that is what made her so real and interesting to read. She was no hero, no savior, not even a nice girl. Yet, with her willfulness was able to put her grandmother in jail and leave her grandfather alone, just as he deserved to be.
The book is haunting yet the beautiful prose and twisted plot is a must read.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this honest review.
--- 4 stars ---