Girl A – Abigail Dean

‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took summer 2018 off to work on her debut novel, Girl A, ahead of her thirtieth birthday. She now works as a lawyer for Google, and is currently writing her second novel, The Conspiracies.

Girl A sold in the UK after a 9-way auction, and also sold in auction in the US. The novel has since been acquired in 23 other territories, and television/film rights have sold to Sony.

Abigail has always loved reading, writing, and talking about books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AbigailSDean.

My Review:

Girl A by Abigail Dean is being published in January 2021 and is being marketed as “the biggest fiction debut of 2021”, and “the book that will define a decade”. Those are quite powerful statements so I started the book with my expectations much higher than usual.

The book is narrated by Lex, now a successful lawyer living in the USA, who grew up with her 6 siblings in her parents house which is known as “The House of Horrors” – a victim of horrific abuse and neglect at the hands of her parents, Lex finally escaped at the age of 15 and was dubbed “Girl A” in the press and throughout the court case.

Years later, the surviving children have all grown up and moved on with their lives when they find out their mother has died in prison and left the children the house and a sum of money which brings Lex back to the UK and having to revisit and face her horrific past and reconnect with her estranged siblings.

Lex is not the easiest characters to get to know despite her narrative, however given the subject matter and emotional trauma she’s experienced it’s not hard to imagine why she is so distant and reserved.

This book will contain triggers for readers and it is a very dark and uncomfortable read at times, especially when Lex recounts her youth and the abuse she experienced at the hands of her parents.

The writing is beautiful and powerful and dark, the storyline is disturbing and heartbreaking throughout. Will it be the biggest fiction debut in 2021 and the book to define a decade? I’m not sure, but I would recommend it to those who enjoy the darker side of fiction.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘It is rare for a novel to be so deft yet devastating. A story of terrible control but also irresistible humanity, Girl A is a portrait of survival, intelligence and love, and it will stay with me for a long time. A book of deep feeling, and an astonishing achievement.’ JESSIE BURTON

‘Girl A isn’t just an astonishingly accomplished debut novel, it’s a masterpiece. With its haunting prose and devastatingly complicated characters, this book asks the reader, in visceral, heartbreaking detail, what we would do to survive. Lex’s story will stay with me for a very long time.’ LOUISE O’NEILL

‘Terrifyingly gripping.’ SUSIE STEINER

‘Gripping, beautifully written perfection.’ SOPHIE HANNAH

‘Girl A is truly my idea of the perfect book: gripping and beautifully written, with complex (and often chilling) characters that are fully realised, and hard to forget. I’ll be thinking about this for a long, long time, so… Believe the hype – it really is that good.” KATIE LOWE

‘Beautifully written, compulsively readable.’ JEN WILLIAMS

‘Girl A is an absolute masterpiece: harrowing, emotive, confronting and beautifully written.
An absolute scorcher of a debut.’ EMMA GANNON

‘Books like GIRL A don’t come along often; it gives you no option but to put your entire life on pause. Abigail Dean is an astonishing new talent and has written a searing, gripping tale of love, loss and survival that exposes the bare bones of humanity and explores how victims cope long after the headlines stop rolling. One of the most compelling novels I’ve read in a long time.’ STACEY HALLS

‘Girl A is extraordinary. Pitch black, forensic, and uncomfortably riveting, but with such a thread of humour and tenderness. You race through it, then it lingers.’ BETH MORREY

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