Let me start out this review with a (sad) story: I was going to go up to my local bookstore (Interabang) to see St. James speak about THE BROKEN GIRLS on a press tour, but I was only about 50 or so pages in at the time. I wasn’t really feeling the book and figured that either way I wouldn’t want spoilers.
I am so dumb.
Yes, she probably would have spoiled the ending for me but dang – THE BROKEN GIRLS has to be one of my favorite books I’ve read. Not even just this year – ever.
We should probably dive in with a brief synopsis. I can’t go too in depth because I’d be spoiling too much.
Here is how I think of it:
|Vermont 1950||Vermont 1994||Vermont 2014|
|Four best friends and roommates live at a boarding school (known for being the “out of sight out of mind” population) called Idlewild.
They all have mysterious circumstances surrounding their reason for being at the school.
|Fiona, who we meet in 2014, has a sister who is murdered at Idlewild. Her murderer, her boyfriend, is in prison.||Fiona is a journalist who can’t get over the fact that her sister has been murdered and is now looking into the case again (with help from her cop boyfriend).
An anonymous donor is restoring Idlewild Hall. Why?
Fiona’s boyfriend, the cop
The family restoring Idlewild
I detailed it all out for you because sometimes I find it difficult to keep the timelines straight. There is a fair bit of back and forth, but it was done in a way that pushed the plot forward.
What remains consistent? Mary Hand (a ghost* whose death is under mysterious circumstances), and the school itself.
*I will take a second here to note that while I don’t generally like when a book has supernatural elements (at least in a book that isn’t classified as supernatural), but I don’t think that this addition makes it cheesy or takes away from the plot at all.
I really loved this book because it contains some of my favorite things to read about: conspiracy, murder, boarding school. Each of these things can be so trite or corny, but St. James has a great knack for bringing it all together.
Like so many of my favorite books, the setting is one of the best “characters.” The story, while in theory could have taken place anywhere, is so tied to Vermont and Idlewild itself.
Just as I mentioned above, I didn’t always love this book. It definitely necessitated a push to get past the first 100 pages or so, but I am so glad that my gut told me to prevail. My only qualm with the book is that so much of the book is plot driven (vs. character driven, though there are certain elements of that) – I’m not typically drawn to this kind of writing style.
If you’re looking for a book with a perfect balance of thriller and mystery, pick this one up as soon as possible. If anything, read it for the ending you (probably, I didn’t) see coming. The ending is a little controversial (as some have said it is a little too out of left field), but I find it to be perfect.
Don’t believe me? Listen to the over 12,000 people rating it 4+ stars on Goodreads.
Have you read THE BROKEN GIRLS? Let me know in the comments below.
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