Author: Lisa Jewell
Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?
On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.
I could not put this book down! I was fascinated by the dynamics of the characters in this story. I am so drawn to books that are character driven with cool settings, and this book was both.
This book was unusual, and I think that is why I liked it. It didn't follow the normal path that I expected it would. Everything in this book played with conventions - traditional vs. alternative, from parenting to living arrangements, to children's names and even pets. Things were turned upside down everywhere, forcing your brain to look at things in ways you didn't expect. Was this always successful? Perhaps not, but it was always interesting.
The children in this book ran free and wild, without much supervision from parents, either through a parenting choice (Adele), neglect (CeCe), or too much trust in the park itself (Clare). Where one may believe this kept the children safe or innocent, it had mixed results. The girls in the garden I believe refers to more than just Pip and her sister Grace, who were the new girls in the park, whose presence upset the whole social ecosystem that was in place. An influx of new thoughts and ideas, girls who had not been raised in this communal environment their whole lives and brought with them, in essence, the rest of the world. Despite this, they began as the most innocent.
The mystery itself kept me guessing - Jewell did a great job at making everyone seem suspect. The ending was unexpected, and slightly unsatisfying, but I think it fit the story and the characters well. And, I think, it is an ending that could actually happen in reality.
You have to wonder, can such a self-contained world remain pure, or will it eventually warp upon itself?
One last thing - these giant rabbits! I totally want one! One of the characters in the book has a giant rabbit on a leash, and a cat in a box. Again, with the upside down. I looked the rabbit up, a Flemish Giant, and it appears they are definitely real. I wonder how one would get along with my cats?
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