The Girl Before by Rena Olsen


Photo Credit: Putnam Books

This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration.

The Girl Before

Summary: In this powerful psychological suspense debut, when a woman’s life is shattered, she is faced with a devastating question: What if everything she thought was normal and good and true . . . wasn’t?

Clara Lawson is torn from her life in an instant. Without warning, her home is invaded by armed men, and she finds herself separated from her beloved husband and daughters. The last thing her husband yells to her is to say nothing.

In chapters that alternate between past and present, the novel slowly unpeels the layers of Clara’s fractured life. We see her growing up, raised with her sisters by the stern Mama and Papa G, becoming a poised and educated young woman, falling desperately in love with the forbidden son of her adoptive parents. We see her now, sequestered in an institution, questioned by men and women who call her a different name—Diana—and who accuse her husband of unspeakable crimes. As recollections of her past collide with new revelations, Clara must question everything she thought she knew, to come to terms with the truth of her history and to summon the strength to navigate her future.


Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

I’ll admit the premise of this book intrigued the heck outta me! I also really liked how the story was set up- told in present and past sections- with each chapter being relatively short.

It didn’t take long to figure out Papa G’s business and it kept me on the edge of my seat- wondering how graphic things were going to get. However, it didn’t get too graphic- it was a lot of behind closed doors talk, etc- but the clues were there.

Clara was a character that I should have had oodles of sympathy for. Kidnapped, brainwashed, living a life that was so far from the life she should be living. And yet- at times, I wanted to pinch her. To call to her to say “Wake up and smell the coffee!” Clara was the living embodiment of being able to study a mind- how fast you forget things from the past, how you learn to cope in your new life. She was a totally gray character- I couldn’t forget that she was a victim and yet she wasn’t totally innocent.

Bottom line: I thought this story was pretty good. The subject matter is not easy (but it’s not graphic either). Clara has so many layers. It’s worth a read!


*This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone.*


Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,

T @ Traveling With T

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2 thoughts on “The Girl Before by Rena Olsen

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