The Roanoke Girls – Review

img_8401The Roanoke Girls begins with Lane facing her detached mother’s suicide and finding out her mom’s estranged family wants to take her in immediately. Surprised by this elusive part of her mother’s past, Lane is anxious to head to Roanoke and learn more about her family’s history. When she arrives, she is greeted by her effervescent cousin, Allegra. Almost immediately, Lane is met with a mystery she can’t untangle as Allegra’s words haunt her, “Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.” 

Eleven years later, Lane awakens to a phone call from her grandfather informing her of Allegra’s disappearance. Again, those haunting words from years before come to mind. Lane is determined to go back to Kansas and find out what her family has been sweeping under the rugs of Roanoke for generations.

There is something about stories with big, old houses and murky histories that appeals to my tastes. I love being slowly clued into what secrets lie within the walls of homes, and what generations of the inhabitants experienced there. In this case, the story features some taboo subject matter I wasn’t quite prepared for upon starting but saw coming in the first few chapters. I know that word “taboo” has been thrown around a lot lately in our book community, unfortunately. The Roanoke Girls falls right into the center of this category, but the story’s condemnation of the dirty acts, makes me feel slightly like less of sicko for rating this book so high. Oftentimes dark and twisty novels completely turn me off, but I didn’t want to put this one down. I probably nagged Sabrina halfway crazy each time I asked her if she was ready to read the next few chapters because I was so anxious to find out what was going to happen. I haven’t been so captivated by a mystery in a long time. I think Amy Engel presented the subject matter at hand in the most… I hate to say “tasteful”, but tasteful way possible. It never became too much to handle for me. But guys, there is a whole lot of gross. There are moments that will make your stomach churn and you’ll wonder why you decided to read this novel, but you’ll realize you won’t be able to pry it from your fingers.

The beauty is in Lane and the journey she goes through, alternating from past to present. Amy Engel wrote her to life in the most vivid way. I felt like I knew her – she could have been any small town girl struggling to make her way in the world. She was basically the same age as Sabrina and I, making her more relatable. Walking in her shoes felt uncomfortable and exciting. Sometimes I wanted to take them off because they were rubbing a nasty blister, but I couldn’t stop myself from walking a little farther.

I felt that Amy Engel gives a satisfying end to this rollercoaster of a novel. My favorite part of the entire story was Lane’s final message on the step of Roanoke. I was so proud of the growth she showed and of her defiance in the end. Overall, I was highly impressed with the writing style and story of The Roanoke Girls.

Purchase on Amazon!


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