Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Book I read #1 - The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

The title of the post, this doesn't mean it's the first book I've ever read.  Don't be silly.  That was Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'.  I read a lot so I thought I would give my opinions on the books I read.  This is the first book I'm giving my opinion on.  Will contain spoilers, but I'll try not to ruin it too much.

I'm always a bit in awe of people who review books, the depth they go into the story and the whys and wherefores. I tend to read books and I love them or hate them.  Don't expect any highbrow literary shenanigans from me. Put it this way, I would be out of place in a book club, unless "THIS? Was SHIT!" counts as an adequate critique.  This is my opinion, not a review.  Occasionally though, a book will leave a lasting impression on me, for several reasons, not always because it made me cry (Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger), or laugh until there was snot (The Tent, The Bucket and Me - Emma Kennedy) or Chick Lit that unexpectedly broke my heart and made me cry with snot (Let's Meet on Platform 8 - Carole Matthews).  This, however, was a book that I lost a whole night's sleep over.

This is the book description from Amazon:

"One summer morning, three little girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, two will be charged with murder.

Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of sickening attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it's the first time they've seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives - and families - to protect, will they really be able to keep their wicked secret hidden?"

Basically, Kirsty and Amber were known as Jade and Bel previously, until they murdered (?) a four year old child, Chloe, when they were 11 years old.  They were sent to prison, rehabilitated and released into the community with new names to start afresh, and never to contact each other again.

Jade's character was one of those poor kids.  The kid being dragged up, the problem family. The child that everyone was told to stay away from.  Never any food in the house, lazy parents, hovel home.  Bel was the exact polar opposite.  Large house, staff, fancy cars, but the common tie was that their parents, or in Bel's case, her mother and step-father, had no time for her, favouring their own child, Bel's half sister.

Fast forward 25 years.  One of the women is a cleaner, the other is a middle-class journalist.  And yes, you guessed it, the poor, illiterate kid isn't the cleaner, and the rich kid isn't the journalist.  It emerges that the rich kid went to the appalling prison, and the poor kid went to the 5 star prison, and received a proper education and rehabilitation.

This book was very clever in that - I feel - it had two layers.  It had the exterior storyline, the murders in the seaside town, which would have been a good read on its own.  But the underlying story, that of Bel and Jade, left a nasty taste in my mouth.  This part made me lose sleep.  I don't really know how to put it into words, because I wouldn't want it to come out wrong, and Lord knows I make a habit of that.

As the story of Chloe's 'murder' eventually emerged throughout the book, it was obviously an accident.  Bel and Jade, specifically Bel, were very careless - but they were just children themselves, left in charge of  Chloe due to the teenage selfishness of Jade's brother and Chloe's sister sneaking away to have sex. Their attempts to awaken what they thought was an unconscious child by putting her in the water, breaking her ribs in an immature attempt at CPR I found heartbreaking, especially as you already know by this time they have been accused of cold-heartedly torturing and murdering the little girl.

Having a daughter months away from their age really made me think. What would she do in that situation? Would she be rational? Would she panic? Would she do something thinking it could help that would be construed as 'evil' by the tabloid press?  Would she be her very immature, sheltered, 11 year old self?  It made me think stereotypes. It made me think about parenting. 

It just made me stop and think.  Full stop.  So, do I recommend you read this book? Definitely.  But will it affect you?  It disturbed me.

You can buy  it here:


or Kindle version here:

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