Chrissy Reviews: The Roanoke Girls
Where to begin with The Roanoke Girls, exactly? The book falls short of being anything other than predictable. The terrible family secret is revealed in the fourth chapter of the book; when the terrible family secret is combined with the prologue, the whole picture is already painted for the reader. The only mystery remaining to be read after page 32 is what happened to Lane’s cousin, Allegra. This main plot point, the point of the entire book, was overridden with Lane’s memories of her summer at the family home, Roanoke, and how she emotionally abused the only really interesting character who had any type of character development in the whole novel, Cooper Sullivan, when they were teens and continued to do so upon returning to Osage Flats ten years later.
The backstory that lead up to Allegra’s disappearance was important to her disappearance, however, more time is spent showing Lane doing what she’s always done. Engel tries to show this as Lane slipping back into who she was when she lived at Roanoke, but she makes it clear several times, and even blatantly states, that Lane is still mentally the 16 year old girl you’ve been reading about this whole time. There is no change, no shift, in her to make her compelling or show a passage of time. This stopping of time makes sense for Allegra, but not for Lane. Lane is just an awful person using her mother’s issues as an excuse to be awful to other people while Allegra was groomed from birth to believe the things that went on inside Roanoke were right, were good, were beautiful.
Amy Engel’s writing was flimsy half of the time, the book suffering by her choice to switch between first person present tense and first person past tense narratives when switching between time frames. If she had stuck to first person past tense she would have had stronger writing the entire way through, and might have made me more interested in the book.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars