She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell
This book was my first ever Goodreads giveaway prize! They also sent along a great tote bag. I mean, when you read as much as I do (and commute as much as I do), you really can’t go wrong with more totes!
I was especially thrilled to have received this advance reader’s copy, because I was eagerly anticipating its release. You may remember my review of Michele Campbell’s debut mystery thriller, It’s Always the Husband (here is a link, if you missed it!). It was a great exploration of female relationships, and so engaging that I categorized it as one of those “almost missed my train stop” books.
Campbell’s newest novel centers around a boarding school-based mystery. Twins Rose and Bel (short for Isabel) move from California all the way to the East Coast to attend a prestigious boarding school after a family death. Still grieving, Bel is lured in by the more wild group of students, and isolates herself from Rose more with each passing day. A hazing incident that shatters the twins’ relationship, and events are set into motion that ends with one of the sister’s murder.
What struck me most about the story was not the mystery and the plot twists (which, I loved), but the way in which the women (girls?) in the story struggle to try to achieve success. Bel is a wild child who struggles to find other artsy friends among a preppy monopoly at the boarding school. Rose is the maybe more academically put together and sees the boarding school environment as a saving grace, but still can’t quite find a way to relate to her fellow students.
My one critique is that I felt like the language of the students wasn’t hitting me in a way that resonated. For example, a 16-year-old in 2018 would be constantly trying to use text/Snapchat/Facebook/Instagram- all. the time. That said, I can allow for some creative license both to propel the book forward, and to maybe allow for some variations in characterization. Maybe East Coast boarding school kids don’t have to text as often, because they see each other all the time?
This is the second book by Campbell I’ve read, the first being her debut novel It’s Always the Husband. There is a privilege in growing to love a writer’s style, while that writer is also learning more about herself, her craft, the unique voice her writing takes on. The heroines in Campbell’s books are strong, but not perfect. Fallible characters, just the way I like them!
She Was the Quiet One comes out July 31st! Put it on your Goodreads Want-to-Read list here.
Source: Goodreads giveaway