The Girl Before
by J.P. Delaney
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.
4 of 5 Stars
In the last six months, I’ve really latched on to the mystery thriller genre. I’m always in search of a story filled with suspense and I’m happy to say that The Girl Before filled this desire really well. I was nervous at first about the alternating story line between ‘then’ Emma and ‘now’ Jane but I only got confused a few times. They are both interesting characters that I enjoyed getting to know as the story progressed. This was only increased as some of the twists started happening and we learned more about Emma through Jane’s search. While Jane and Emma are the main characters there are a few others that are equally intriguing. I never really knew how to feel about Simon or Edward. I frequently rotated between liking and disliking both of them.
It’s hard to talk about what I loved about this story without giving away spoilers. The twists had me shocked repeatedly. I was so convinced it would go one way and then something would happen to completely change that. I appreciated how my views of a specific character could change so quickly back and forth.
I loved this story but was put off by way the therapy was portrayed. There is specifically one scene where EMDR is performed and because of my own experience I knew right away that it wasn’t being administered correctly. It wasn’t a glaring error and anyone who hasn’t been through this type of counseling probably wouldn’t have noticed but it frustrated me. After having read the book I’m a little on the fence about it. The issue surrounded diving into this mode of therapy somewhat impulsively in one session when in reality there are many steps before tackling a difficult memory. That said, stretching this out into several scenes so that multiple sessions could take place in the realistically correct way wouldn’t have worked in a book. The truth is that sometimes recovery is boring. Boring doesn’t equal good reading. I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t have any issue with this at all.
I highly recommend this to anyone who likes mystery and suspense with a hefty dose or romanced thrown in. I will caution those with triggers regarding rape or domestic abuse. I think these topics are balanced enough in the book that they didn’t upset me much but I know others might be more sensitive.
Thank you to Ballantine Books for providing me with a free galley of this book in exchange for my honest review.