Published by Crooked Lane Books (7th July 2020)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of 4.5
June Moody, is a 30-something year old English Professor, she’s always wanted to become an author and this is the closest she’s gotten to that. When she receives a message in a group chat between her and her college friends inviting them all up to Sadie’s sprawling estate to celebrate Amy’s impending birth, she cringes. Sadie MacTavish has everything. The lucrative writing career, the fans, the money, the hot husband that June had a thing for back in the day. She’s forever comparing her life to Sadie’s and can think of nothing worse, but when her current boyfriend ends things abruptly, she has no excuse for not going, and besides, wouldn’t it be better to be out doing something rather than sitting at home and dwelling on things? You would think so, but when tensions are riding high and everyone decides to get blackout drunk, things go sideways. They all wake the next morning with no memory of the night before, blood on the stairwell, and a missing friend. What ensues is a hair raising race to find out what really happened and who was responsible for doing what. With the police closing in, the ladies left needs to work out exactly what happened, before one of them goes down for something they’re not even sure they did. A locked room mystery up there with the best, The Girls Weekend is a gripping page turner that will have you staying up until the wee hours of the morning trying to figure it out.
Over the past twelve odd months, I’ve taken quite a liking to the psychological thriller genre which I hadn’t explored before, so I’ve found that I’m requesting more and more of these as they pop up. This one definitely did not disappoint and it was an absolute page turner for me. I couldn’t put it down, and when I had to, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
June, in the beginning, is a rather unlikable character to me. She openly admits to stalking her supposed friend, Sadie, online constantly and comparing their lives. She bemoans being a failure and constantly makes reference to how amazing Sadie’s life is when hers just isn’t. However, what annoyed me in the beginning really set this story up to have some awesome character evolution and development. This is the kind of growth I love to see in a novel, as once June got to Sadie’s McMansion, as the story progressed, she gradually came to realise that Sadie’s life wasn’t as shiny and gold lined as she assumed, this paved the way for June to realise her own self worth and accomplishments, as well as, sometimes, you don’t always want what you once wished for. Kimiko, part of the friendship group, was just a downright pain in the arse who had very little redeeming qualities. All she wanted to do was get stoned and drink copious amounts of alcohol and yell and scream about being a minority and how no one else understood, that was pretty much all there was to her backstory and I just felt that it was very superficial. Amy was mentally unstable with very little redeeming qualities besides her honesty, and Sadie was just a deranged control freak. Em was a good supporting character to June, so these two were my favourites. As well as the gardener on Sadie’s property, I took a liking to him as well. However, the main thing that stands out for me the most with the way the characters were written was how real they all seemed, while half of them bugged me to no end, they were still very believable and full of dimension.
The narrative was well written with a lovely flow that just kept the pages turning. While there was a lot going on and it was difficult to ascertain who was lying and telling the truth, at no point was I confused about who was who, or what was actually happening. The mystery was incredibly well thought out and executed and I am so here for it. We have the beauty of unreliable characters who we have no idea whether they’re being honest in what they do and don’t remember, and the best thing was, they all had a reason to have been responsible for what happened. While early on I had a very strong leaning towards one particular character and their motive, which turned out to be right, I still had little niggling doubts in my head with a couple of other theories waiting on standby. So while the revelation wasn’t inherently mind blowing, it was still well thought out and incredibly enjoyable.
One thing that I thought was great about this book is that it really hits home about comparing your life to someone else. While they may look like they have everything worked out and have a life you could only dream of, appearances can be deceiving. Especially in this day and age of social media where you have people who post every second of their days online for the world to see, you also have people who only post the good stuff, some wanting to illustrate how amazing and perfect their life is, while others just don’t see the need to share dirty laundry with billions of people worldwide. Comparing yourself to someone else is never a good thing, we are all in the middle of our own journeys and we all have our own trials and tribulations to work through, no two people share the exact same journey, we are all individual, and one quote that comes to mind that always made me smile because of it’s truth comes from Dr. Seuss “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you”. Embrace your individuality because you are the only you there is, don’t waste your time comparing your life to someone else because I can guarantee their life isn’t as perfect as it seems. That’s what I feel the underlying message was in this story – June spent 20 odd years of her life thinking that she was worthless and a no hoper, when in reality she wasn’t, and the life she thought was perfect, was anything but. And while I’m sure the Gehrman wasn’t intending there to be a hugely deep and impactful message in her story, it doesn’t change the fact that that’s what I took away from it.
All in all, this was a riveting page turner of a psychological locked room thriller, but it was so much deeper than a run of the mill whodunit? for me. If you love a good mystery with a bit of substance, give this one a go, you won’t be disappointed.
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