REVIEW: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
By integrating all the Roanoke girls' stories, Amy Engel weaves a page-turning family saga that switches between Lane's first summer in Osage Flats, Kansas all those years ago and her return. At first the time shifts every chapter confused me, but I did get comfortable with the format and could see why the author chose to present her story this way. While the book was very easy to read, I felt more of a YA voice coming through than the adult thriller I believe Engel intended. This makes sense considering that her two previous novels fell into the YA genre; however, considering the disturbing subject matter I thought a more nuanced tone could have been used.
And that brings be to my biggest concern with the story. Without revealing any spoilers, just be aware that there is a taboo subject at the heart of The Roanoke Girls that might be a bit much for a lot of people. I do think the big reveal happened too early in the book, within the first 5 chapters, to have as much impact as a later reveal would have, but I this seems to have been done on purpose as nothing that comes after is sensationalized. I don't believe that the family secret itself was intended to be the focus as much as the destructiveness of families and damaged people, so the marketing as a "thriller" seems a bit misleading.
Even though the the subject matter made me uneasy and the story itself felt foreseeable, I did compulsively turn the pages in order to watch everything play out. The Roanoke Girls is a controversial yet solid first novel from Amy Engel that should cause quite a stir once released.
*I received this book as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.