The Girls was the very first thriller written by Lisa Jewell. I am a huge fan of her thrillers and thought I’d read them all, so I was shocked to discover I’d missed one! Obviously I’m not the only person who had, as it was reissued in 2021 and I picked up a copy in Sainsbury’s recently.
Lisa Jewell always sets her books in these vivid and slightly quirky settings, and The Girls is no exception. The action centres around a large communal garden in London, shared by a number of houses and their occupants.
Newly-single Clare moves into the area with her two young daughters, Grace and Pip. Her girls are quickly adopted by a group of local children of similar age who have spent their entire lives playing in the garden. But while one daughter loves the new friends and the new sense of freedom, the other isn’t so keen. She just wants life back to how it used to be – and her dad back.
Then one day all the freedom and excitement of the garden is shattered when a girl is found unconscious and bleeding there…
The story revolves around two key families – Clare and her daughters, along with Adele, Leo and their own three daughters. Children and adults alike seem to be drawn to Adele and Leo, but are they really as ‘good with children’ as Grace and Pip think they are?
After the girl is found, suddenly Clare and Adele are forced to question everything they thought they knew. Can they really trust their friends and even their families? Are they really good mothers? And do the kids know more about what happened than they are letting on?
This is a real page turner and every bit as good as Lisa Jewell’s other thrillers. It really makes you think about how innocent children really are and what they are and aren’t telling their parents.
When I saw Lisa Jewell speak at Cheltenham Literature Festival earlier this year, she admitted that she doesn’t do research for any of her books, but she does really know teenage girls! As the mum of two teenage daughters, she picks up snippets from them about what ‘Everyone is doing, mum’ and nowhere is that more evident than in The Girls.
If you enjoy a thriller, I would definitely recommend The Girls. But if you worry about what your tweens and teenagers are up to, it might just be one to avoid!