The Girls in the Garden starts out with a party and a girl in a coma. Pip and Grace are brought to the Victoria Park development to live after their father goes into a hospital for his mental illness. Their mother is a bit distracted and they make friends with the other kids in the complex- there's a mix of upscale and more modest homes and they all back onto a communal garden area, complete with a rose garden and paths and even an enclosed "secret" garden. It sounds like a wonderful place for kids to hang out- but one night after a summer party in the park Grace is found unconscious- and there are signs of an assault.
The story is told from the point of view of Pip, her mother Clare, and Adele who lives across the park. And a fascinating story it is. Clare deals with being a single mom while Adele has a beautiful home, three daughters that she homeschools, and a husband who is popular with the kids- perhaps too popular with some of them. Grace is hospitalized after the incident and while Clare and Pip try to hold it together, and figure out what happened, it's Adele who starts digging into the secrets and lies that permeate the community, even as the police are doing the same thing. I loved switching from Pip's perspective to Adele's- both had fascinating personalities and such a different perspective on things, and both were equally compelling.
This story explores the question of how well do you really know someone- your kids, a husband or wife, family? Adele realizes over time that in some ways she doesn't know her kids at all- even though they live together, the kids have their own world in the park and it's a little scary to realize that in real life there's a lot of things we don't know about the people closest to us. To me that was the message of the book- how much do you really know? And does it matter? Here it clearly matters as we slowly learn more about what happened that summer night.
There are some chilling moments towards the end where we discover things that tie everything together, and I enjoyed trying to figure out what happened. Each revelation was a peek into a society centered around the park, where kids grow up too fast and parents don't realize it, where clues and links to past events provide a context to what happened. The only real complaint I have is the explanation at the end seemed a little bit contrived, perhaps a smidgen unrealistic considering how young the kids are, but overall this was a fantastic read that explores family and kids and what happens when it all goes wrong. One of my favorite reads of the year.
For those who've read the book I wanted to talk spoilers a bit.
So I thought Tyler would be involved in some way, although I wasn't sure if she was a red herring as Leo obviously was- but one of the most chilling aspects for me was- did Adele's kids have involvement? Maybe Catkin at least? After all she and Grace had harsh words just before the incident. And Adele seems to suspect the same thing, even as she and Leo resolve to not ask the questions- to let it go. So we never get a definitive resolution of that- who assisted ? What do YOU think?
I have this on my TBR pile and I started reading it a few weeks ago but set it aside for the time being because I started to lose interest. Your review makes me want to pick it up again! This sounds like a good pick for people who like Liane Moriarty but I find her books more readable. Nice review!ReplyDelete
It is a little similar to Liane Moriarty. I've seen other reviews mention that it really took off around the middle so if you pick it back up I hope you like it! I was facinated with the whole gardens thing and just had to know what happened.Delete
Glad you enjoyed this one. I did too just not as much I think. I just wasn't super happy with the ending. And as for the spoilerly discussion I think Yes to some degree, even if we never got a solid answer. Great review!ReplyDelete
I wasn't crazy about the ending either, it seemed a little too... pat. And I normally hate it when you get a definite answer at the end, and sure enough that irritated me here, but other wise I liked it. And I agree... there was something else going on. :)Delete
I really want to read this author and this one sounds really good. The whole idea of not really knowing who we live with is super creepy! I want to read her other book - The House We Grew Up In so I'll have to see which one I find first!ReplyDelete
I guess she has a few other books, and like Liane Moriarty I'm now curious. I thought it was a good look at how well do we really know our kids and what they're doing, and what can happen when it goes awry.Delete
Now this I will read. Just to let you know - I've tagged you in the Time Travel Book Tag! http://marelithalkink.blogspot.co.za/2016/07/the-bookish-time-travel-tag.htmlReplyDelete
It's a good one! And thank you- I'll check out that tag.Delete
I'm glad to see you had a good time time with this one. I don't think I knew it but I'm interestedReplyDelete
I did really like it. I hope you enjoy it if you read it- it's a good one!Delete
This one is a new one for me Greg but from the way you described it, I really want to check it out now! I LOVE mysteries! Too bad the ending didn't quite deliver compared to the rest but I'm still curious about this :) Wonderful review as usual! xxReplyDelete
Thank you. And you should read it- it's quite good. Would love to see what you think of it.Delete
That cover definitely grabs your attention, and it sounds like it could be a very intense story, but a good read. Great review!ReplyDelete
I just signed up for a book tour for this book for September. Can't wait to read it after reading your thoughts on it. Sounds like a good mystery.ReplyDelete
Great title and interesting cover... Though I don't think this book is for me. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
This sounds like an interesting read with the garden and how it's told from multiple point of views and it seems to have a bit of a mystery element as well.ReplyDelete
It sure is interesting to think about, how little you actually know people and if it matters or not. Glad you enjoyed this one so much. Greta review!
This sounds wonderful. I am going to add it to my library-look-fors shelf.ReplyDelete