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Goodreads⎮Reviewed May 2017
Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Length: 10h 41m
Publisher: Random House Audio⎮2017
Synopsis: “Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end we either run or we die.”
After her mother’s suicide, 15-year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.
Eleven years later Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run, too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.
4.5★ Audiobook⎮ My most consistent thought while listening to The Roanoke Girls was “This is so f*cked up”. I apologize for offending your sensibilities, but that’s the only way to put it. I had no idea what to expect from The Roanoke Girls and nothing could have prepared me for what it held. Engel’s writing style made the story completely absorbing. It wouldn’t let me go.
But first, let’s get this out-of-the-way: The Roanoke Girls will undoubtedly be upsetting to certain readers/listeners. No amount of delicacy on the author’s part, can soften the fact that The Roanoke Girls focuses on psychological abuse, sexual abuse, incest and suicide. Those aren’t spoilers, just fair warnings.
Even as someone without personal sensitivities to these issues, The Roanoke Girls was still deeply unsettling. I suspect that’s how it was meant to be. You don’t tell this type a story without good reason. It was the most haunting and horrifying a story can be without being classified as Paranormal or Horror. It allows you to slip inside the minds of a sexual predator’s many victims.
The Roanoke Girls was empathically told. Throughout the course of The Roanoke Girls, I began to understand (on a certain level) just how these horrendous acts were able to take place. We tell children that if something like this happens to them, they should confide in someone they trust. But what if that someone is the one doing it? Wouldn’t they trust the reassurances of a beloved family member over the outside world telling them it’s wrong? Of course. And that’s exactly what makes this type of sexual abuse so dangerous.
Amy Engel makes that point subtly, yet emphatically. Engel weaves a web so entangled in naïveté, that even the reader gets caught in it. It’s tempting to want to place blame (or partial blame) on other characters, but it really only belongs on one. The atmosphere of the story is thick and sweet. Its pace is slow, giving you time to process the emotional burden it unloads. The Roanoke Girls is a story that has gotten under my skin and I’m sure it will be there for a while.
Narration review: The Roanoke Girls is Brittany Pressley’s best performance yet. I’ve heard her before, but never like this. She’s a perfect match for Engel’s work. Her voice was laden with emotion and varied appropriately from character to character, scene-to-scene. Pressley’s performance gives the audiobook a definite advantage over the traditional book format, making her a valuable asset to this thought-provoking tale. ♣︎