Familial relationships can be fraught with subtle nuances that determine behavior, for either good or bad. Amy Engel’s The Roanoke Girls depicts the disturbing relationships within the Roanoke family.
The women in Lane Roanoke’s family have a tendency to lead troubled and tragically short lives. When her mother kills herself when Lane is fifteen, Lane is forced to live with the only family she has left, the grandparents that her mother led her to believe made her life a nightmare. Living with her grandparents in the family home with her cousin Allegra, whose mother ran away after giving birth to Allegra, offers Lane a different kind of life – one filled with love and dark secrets. Eleven years after the summer she spent with her family, Lane returns to the Roanoke home to find out what happened to Allegra in the wake of her disappearance. To find the truth about what happened to her, the harsh truths of her family may also have to come to light.
Disturbing and dysfunctional, yet fascinating in the way gawking at a wreck can be, this story was enthralling. All the characters presented are flawed, which made them interesting studies of the human condition, although I found Lane frustrating at times with her tendency to make decisions that were hurtful toward those “normal people” who care about her. While the dark secret was heavily alluded to early within the narrative, the slow unveiling allowed for many, but not all, answers to be revealed as to why the family is the way it is, simultaneously cultivating the mystery and then presenting an answering response.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.