The Unremembered Girl by Eliza Maxwell
Why I read: Thriller. Amazon Prime pick for October
Book blurb: “In the deep woods of East Texas, Henry supports his family by selling bootleg liquor. It’s all he can do to keep his compassionate but ailing mother and his stepfather—a fanatical grassroots minister with a bruising rhetoric—from ruin. But they have no idea they’ve become the obsession of the girl in the woods.
Abandoned and nearly feral, Eve has been watching them, seduced by the notion of family—something she’s known only in the most brutal sense. Soon she can’t resist the temptation to get close. Where Henry’s mother sees a poor girl in need, his father sees only wickedness. When Henry forges an unexpected bond with Eve, he believes he might be able to save her. He doesn’t know how wrong he is.
Eve is about to take charge of her own destiny—and that of Henry’s family. As both their worlds spin violently out of control, Henry must make an impossible choice: protect the broken young woman who’s claimed a piece of his soul, or put everyone he loves at risk in order to do the right thing.”
“The stray thought occurred to him that if it weren’t for women, in all their cloaks of unfathomed mysteries, men would lead very boring lives.” ― Eliza Maxwell,
A fast paced thriller The Unremembered Girl is a tale about a dysfunctional family living in the backwaters of Texas and what happens to them when they encounter a feral girl Eve. The story mostly focuses on Henry, his views and the decisions he makes and his relationship with Eve. We are fed bits and pieces of information as the family discover more about Eve. There were many twists and turns and just as you think things can’t get any worse something else is thrown into the mix.
There’s a lot of dark and unsettling themes running throughout the book including human trafficking, child abuse, sexual abuse, alcoholism and murder. Most are just there as an under layer never fully explored. The book is filled with sadness and tragedy with a few hopefully moments thrown in. The plot jumped around a bit but the language and writing style was easy to understand and skim through so it was a quick read. The setting for the book was really well written and you got a real feel for small town politics and values and got drawn into the swampy Texas scenery. I’m normally a fan of doom and gloom but the book lacked the full emotional dimensions to pull me totally in.
Eve was extremely damaged, and I felt the family did not do much to understand her. It seemed more they wanted to shelter and protect her. Eve does not say much and throughout seems to just be a pretty one dimensional “damaged girl”. Henry was a much better written character and you see many layers to his thoughts as he battles with decisions of what is best for himself, his family and for Eve. Henry’s mother Caroline was a likeable character, a women holding a family together.
There was some unrealistic romance which to me seemed more of Henry having an obsession with Eve. With a seemingly instantaneous “love connection” sprouting from out of no-where. The author seems to be trying to tell this as a love story, but it just felt like Eve was a prop for Henry to try and save.
Overall I found the book a fast read but the sheer amount of tragedy just made me feel sad. Its not a book for the faint-hearted but there are few dull moments as the plot keeps hurtling along. I settled between 2 and 3 star rating.
I’d recommend to anyone who likes: fast paced reads, dark tragedy themes.
Kindle Edition, 334 pages