Monday, March 20, 2017

G849 Book Review of The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Name of Book: The Roanoke Girls

Author: Amy Engel

ISBN: 978-1-101-90666-8

Publisher: Crown

Type of book: dark subject matter, Kansas, 1990s, 2000s, deaths, disappearances, Roanoke girls, mysteries, pregnancies, relationships, family drama, self-sabotage, psychology, love, affection, wealth, grooming

Year it was published: 2017


Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.


The main characters in the book are Allegra and Lane. Allegra is a woman/girl of flair who enjoys carving words on surfaces and often tries to fill her life with noise and distractions be it clothes or boys. Lane's mother killed herself recently and has hated Lane for her whole life. Lane's mother is an extremely damaged woman who never gave much guidance to Lane in life. While Lane seeks and desires stability and good things, she often self-sabotages her own efforts and burns her relationships. Secondary characters include Tommy who comes from a loving family and has his head on straight and who desires to be with Allegra. Cooper is Tommy's friend and he comes from an abusive family that had his father beating everyone up although he makes efforts to get away from his own history. Lane's and Allegra's grandpa is sweet, charming and can make women feel very special. Sharon is a housekeeper who cannot do the housework while their grandma is elegant, regal but has very dark secrets as well as twisted love.


People will do whatever they can to absolve themselves of responsibility\


The story is in first person narrative as well as third person narrative briefly. First person narrative is told from Lane's point of view and it flips between the summer she spent at Roanoke as a teenager and the summer she came back to help find her cousin Allegra. Third person narrative are the women that dominated Yates, Lane's grandfather, life. The glimpses are brief and unfortunately the reader learns very little about the Roanoke women beyond their cravings. Also as well, the story takes place in summer, and the narrator constantly reminds reader of the reality of summer in the South, thus while summer activities do exist, most of the time they only add to the futility and emptiness of the season. What is also disturbing for me is how small topics are encouraged but the elephant in the room is ignored and not talked about.

Author Information:
(From Book)

Amy Engel is the author of the young adult series The Book of Ivy. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. This is her first novel for adults


I'll be honest; this was the most exhaustive and energy draining novel I have read so far. I don't mean it in a bad way honestly, just that I live in Texas, and reading about summer in Kansas and being constantly reminded of the heat and so forth really drained me. (Appropriate that I read it in the spring, I'd say.) The book certainly lives up to its reputation to being dark, uncomfortable, depressing and angry. I don't want to spoil by mentioning what it has, but let's say that is the first time I've read a story that contains this type of subject matter. (In a way, think of Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu and Genji and Murasaki's baser relationship.)  My reactions to the story are odd as well as angry. I honestly wanted to understand and sympathize with Lane Roanoke, but I found myself being frustrated with her self-sabotaging ways, and I couldn't really understand why she behaves the way she does, although the idea was constantly hammered in all the time. There are quite a lot of twists and yes mystery is also included. I personally would have liked to see more of the previous Roanoke girls, as well as how all that was going on is an open secret of sorts. Also, as twisted as it will sound, I wanted to see how Yates justified what he has done.

This is for Blogging for books

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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