The Longing of Wayward Girls is the first book I’ve read by Karen Brown, and I admit that this was also the first time I’ve heard about this author. I’ve requested this book for review from Netgalley for two reasons: Firstly, I loved the description of the book and secondly, the cover – it is beautiful. The story plays off in two time periods, in the 1970’s (1974/9) and 2003.
A girl called Laura disappeared in the woods 5 years ago, and is still missing. Sadie remembers all about it, because for some people Sadie reminds them of Laura. It is summer in New England and Sadie and her best friend Betty are looking forward to the summer holidays. Sadie’s mom wants them to play with a neighbourhood girl called Francie. They don’t particularly like her and play a “harmless” prank on her: They tell her about a imaginary boy who Francie starts writing letters to and develops a connection with this “boy”, not knowing that Sadie and Betty are the ones who are writing letters to her, and receiving hers in return. Soon, Francie disappears and Sadie and Betty, although they blame themselves, decides to keep quiet about what they know about her disappearance.
Twenty years later, Sadie is married with two children, when a boy from her neighborhood decides to return to town, the boy who was blamed for Francie’s disappearance. Sadie falls in love with him, and finds herself having an affair with this man and wanting to leave her husband for him. What will she choose?
The story sounds exactly what I wanted to read at the time I started the book: two missing girls disappear in the woods, a young girl blaming herself for one of the disappearances, mystery, and suspense… The book starts off nicely, the tale is haunting until I reached the middle of the book, where I became less interested in the story. I find Sadie and Betty really irresponsible for arranging to meet Betty at midnight, knowing that a young girl went missing in the woods before – such a reminder of how unintentionally cruel kids can be.
The story has a few interesting elements: Sadie’s affair with a man who had an affair with her mother (of which she finds out later in the book) and wanting to leave her family for him. His sister’s unnatural obsession with her brother, I think that she was in love with her own brother, which made me feel a little uncomfortable reading about that. In the end they find Francie’s remains and Sadie in return finds out what happened to Francie, and she still chooses to keep quiet. However, that is what I think she did, because that’s where the book ends, more or less. It somehow reminds me a bit of In the Woods. The book, although an interesting story, didn’t keep me in suspense as I’ve hoped it would do. I think the reason for that is that the emphasis was too much on Sadie and her infidelity and Sadie’s regret of what she (and Betty) has done to Francie, while my expectation was more of a mystery/suspense tale…
I think this book is an easy read, a perfect beach read with a little bit of mystery, but there isn’t any suspense. Have you read the book? If so, what did you think of it?