July 24, 2016

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell: A Book Review (and Giveaway!)

Lisa Jewell (The Making of Us, The Third Wife) does a beautiful job of creating large casts of detailed and believable characters in her novels. Some are likable, some are not, and Jewell carefully explores what makes each of them tick, from the unstable to the overachievers to those in search of love. I always love her books, even if I hate some of the characters.

The Girls in the Garden is no exception, featuring a cast of families who live around the same exclusive garden square in a London neighborhood. The communal space creates a lovely intimacy among the residents, and the teens and preteens of the surrounding flats and houses run wild in it with the blessing of their parents. Then the dreadful moment at the midsummer party when 12-year-old Pip discovers her 13-year-old sister, Grace, bleeding and unconscious, ruptures their placid way of life, and brings old secrets to the surface.

Begging the question of whether anyone ever truly knows their neighbors, The Girls in the Garden is a delicate exploration of teenage love and rivalry, mental illness and how far people will go to protect those they care about. The way Jewell structures the novel--beginning with Pip finding Grace, and then flashing back to six months earlier--leaves the reader eager to find out what ultimately happens. Fans of Liane Moriarty and JoJo Moyes will love The Girls in the Garden, as will anyone who remembers the angst and ecstasy of being a teenager.

I liked Pip and Grace a lot, and so I was uneasy the whole book, anxious to find out what happened to Grace. I also thought it was a little funny (since I live in an area where homeschooling is very popular...) that the homeschoolers in this book were presented as such counter-cultural oddities. But, I'm sure homeschooling is much less common in England!

Anyway, this is a fast, addicting sort of read - perfect for a lazy summer afternoon. And so I checked with the publisher, and they kindly agreed to give away a copy of the book to one of you!

To enter to win, please leave a comment letting me know what Lisa Jewell books you've enjoyed, or (if you've never read her) who your favorite modern English author is. 

Comments will close in one week (on July 31, 2016), and the winner that random.org chooses will be notified soon thereafter. US & Canadian addresses only please! Good luck!

(I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness. The publisher is providing a copy to you at no cost to me. I just liked the book enough that I asked for one, so that one of you could read it too!) 

UPDATE: 8/2 - the winner is commenter #9, Stacie! Congrats Stacie, I'll be contacting you for your mailing info.