Publication Date: March 6, 2018 | Star Rating: 4 stars
Wow. Okay, let me catch my breath. I just finished this book moments ago and I have a lot of thoughts but I can’t seem to wrangle them. The Girlfriend, by Sarah Naughton, is a very unique thriller told from multiple perspectives. I transitioned between a 3.5-star and a 4-star rating throughout the book and ultimately decided to go with a 4-star.
The writing style was likable for the most part; nice short chapters, mystery and fluid prose. I liked one of the main characters, Mags, a lot and found I related to her the most. The other main character, Jody, was less likable and less relatable to me personally but I think she was developed well by the author. Jody was an unreliable narrator (VERY) with a traumatic past who clearly struggles with mental illness throughout the course of the book. Having never experienced the types of mental struggles and stressors that Jody was experiencing personally, it is hard for me to judge whether the mental illness rep was a proper characterization or not; I will leave that for others who know more about that topic to debate. In regards to Jody however, I was pleasantly surprised with the position she found herself in at the end of the story. I think as a story arc, hers was the most satisfying, definitely leaving off at a more promising place than she started in.
As far as negatives go, I only have a couple items: I was a little taken aback by a few sentences describing the size of side characters which after first noticing, then seemed to just pop up everywhere for me like a beacon. I am sure that the author was maybe just trying to show some sort of attitude of the characters thinking these things but it happened with multiple characters – for example, Mags thinking, “I never thought a fat woman could be so beautiful,” (ugh) and later Jody thinking, “…panting, perhaps with the adrenaline rush of a narrow escape, or maybe just because he’s fat.” (ughh) This being said, if you are someone who may be sensitive to this type of sentiment being batted about in a story, you may want to stay clear. Furthermore, I would say trigger warnings for child abuse, sibling abuse, rape and sexual assault. My only other slight critique would be that personally I do not enjoy second person narratives.
Overall, I found this book to be exciting and engaging. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves thrillers and is looking for something with exciting twists and unpredictable turns. Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for providing me with a copy to review – I enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to hearing what other readers think a well!