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Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Compelling Abduction Novel an Engrossing Debut

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For as long as she can remember, Anna Montgomery has lived by her mamma's strict rules, even if they don't always make sense.  All she knows is that obsessive cleaning, scripture reading, and keeping herself pure from the influences of the outside world are what keep her paranoid, overly protective mamma calm.  On her 18th birthday, Anna does something she's never done before—she defies her mother by secretly going to Astroland, an amusement park that has been strictly outlawed by mamma.  Even though she's never been there before, Anna's shocked by how familiar the place seems.  It's almost as if she's visited Astroland sometime in the past.  But, how could that possibly be?  When she receives a strange card in the mail on the same day, she becomes convinced that her life is not what it seems to be.  Who is Anna, really?  What is her "mamma" hiding?

In London, 16-year-old Rosie Archer has grown up in the shadow of her older sister, Emily, who went missing from an American theme park when Emily was a toddler.  When she learns that funds in the Find Emily trust are almost gone, Rosie panics.  It's been 15 years since her sister's disappearance, with no real leads—if Rosie doesn't keep searching for Emily, who will?  The more she discovers from online conspiracy theorists, the more she realizes just how much danger her sister could be in.  If she's even still alive ...

Although it's obvious from the get-go who Anna really is, A Girl Named Anna by Lizzy Barber remains a tense, compelling read.  An assured debut, it features sympathetic characters, an intriguing plot, and interesting story elements that keep the tale engrossing.  In fact, I flew through the book, anxious to know what was going to happen.  I can't say that A Girl Named Anna is overly original or memorable, but I enjoyed it and I will definitely keep an eye out for more from the talented Lizzy Barber.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of In Another Life by C.C. Hunter, The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante, The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda, etc.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder invectives), violence, disturbing subject matter, sexual content, and depictions of illegal drug use and underage drinking

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of A Girl Named Anna from the generous folks at MIRA (a division of HarperCollins) in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
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