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Book Review – The Roanoke Girls

Book Review – The Roanoke Girls

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel.


I loved the writing of The Roanoke Girls. I don’t really know how to explain it other than once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. The story pulled me in. When Lane is just 15 her mother commits suicide and she goes to live with her grandparents and her cousin, Allegra, in Kansas. Her grandparents (The Roanoke’s) are rich, and they live in this (sort of creepy) mansion that they’ve lived in forever, adding on when they needed to. Allegra is ecstatic that Lane is there, her new friend, nearly like a sister! But things are a little weird in the house. Especially if you’re a Roanoke girl.

“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.” 
Um, what!?! Why?! I had to know the answer to this question. Why had Lane’s mother run from her home and never looked back? Why had Allegra’s mother run? Why did Lane’s mother never talk about her father? What is going on in this family?
This book was all about family secrets, and what can happen when you keep them.
All of this was fine and dandy. I was curious to know what the secret was, what made these girls do these things? Why did they either die or run??
And then it all came together (near the beginning actually) But it’s all about sexual abuse (mainly incest… UMMM GROSS!! IDK how I feel about this part of the book….)
And now for some *spoilers* if you don’t want to know them, don’t read the rest!
As many of you know, since I’ve publically shared, I was sexually abused when I was sixteen years old and then emotionally abused for the next year and a half. I write about this openly. I talk about the PTSD and anxiety that have come from this abuse. I read books  OFTEN that deal with sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and I rarely get triggered. But for some reason, this book was very triggering for me. (At least at the beginning…)
It made me sick.
Reading about the girls and what their father/brother/grandfather did to them. But how much they loved him and how much he loved them.
I just couldn’t deal. I realize that in a lot of sexual abuse relationships the abuser makes it seem like what they are doing are actions of love that only confuse the victim.  I know that because I felt that way. I was so confused and also broken and also attracted to my abuser, even after the abuse. But I struggled to read about it in this book.
I feel like I should have seen it coming. Girls either committing suicide or running away from home. Abuse of some sort seems to be the glaringly obvious answer, but I wasn’t prepared for it and maybe that’s why it triggered me.
I don’t really know. All I know is that I really loved reading this book… except for the parts where you got inside the heads of those who had been abused, and that’s when I couldn’t deal. Thankfully that wasn’t often. Yesterday I started writing this review and at that point, I didn’t know if I was going to finish this book. But when I got home from work I couldn’t put it down. I’ll be honest that I mainly skimmed this book and skipped sections that I knew would be triggering. But like I said at the beginning, I really liked the writing of this book…. I don’t know how to explain it. I think this book will be great for some people, I actually loved the mystery aspect and there was something else that kept drawing me in, but it was also so disturbing that I feel disturbed at myself that I liked it so much and couldn’t stop reading.The story was fascinating. It really was. Lane, the main character, wasn’t actually all that likable. The only person I really liked was Cooper. I liked the growth that he had over the course of the 10 years (between the flashbacks and the present) and I just liked him as a person. Everyone else seemed to stay the same. I read a review about how they thought that the author was hoping that the shock factor of the family secret would make up for the lack of a lot of character development and I agree with that. But, the family secret wasn’t actually all that much of a shock since it comes out during a dinner conversation about 30 pages in. Which was slightly disappointing, and made it almost more disturbing the more you read since you know what’s been happening the whole time.

Sorry if this review contains spoilers for anyone, but I feel like once you read the first few chapters you have a pretty firm grasp about the abuse and the dysfunctional family. The only thing you don’t know is what happened to Allegra. Which I wanted to know and that part I won’t say any more about.

All in all, I’m so conflicted about how I feel about this book. I really did like the writing style. I didn’t like how much Lane depending on sex as a coping mechanism for what had happened in the Roanoke household. I didn’t like that she was sort of a b*tch the entire story. I didn’t like this book because it did trigger me, but even more than being triggered I was simply disturbed by the story. And like I said, I’m sure this book will be a great fit for some people, but it wasn’t for me. Even though I did end up finishing it.


I still have no idea how I feel about this one. I’m not even sure how many stars to give it, maybe 3. I don’t know, though. Have you read this book yet? What did you think??

Oh, just remembered, one last thought. “I know running doesn’t get you anywhere. You can’t outrun what’s inside of you. You can only acknowledge it, work around it, try to turn it into something better. I may not know exactly where I’m headed, but this time I’m choosing my own destiny.” LOVE LOVE LOVE this line. Okay, now I’m done.

If you are interested in reading this one, you can buy it on Amazon today. Also, here’s some info about the author, Amy Engel (she also has a YA series that I’ve been wanting to read, and I’ve heard good things about that so I may read them in the future. I’ll keep you posted on how those books are.)

Love Always,

* I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own. 
** Some links included are affiliate links, this means if you purchase the book I will receive a small commission. All proceeds go towards this blog. 


This post is also currently posted on my personal blog, here.

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