09 March 2017

Disturbing & Dysfunctional Yet Gripping | The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”

After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away. 

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

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Amy Engel’s The Roanoke Girls tells the story of a dysfunctional family with a penchant for dying or disappearing. Fast-paced and fascinating, the past and the present intertwine to reveal their ugly secrets and the truth behind the latest Roanoke disappearance. None of the novel’s characters are especially likeable, yet main character Lane Roanoke feels authentic in her process of accepting and healing from her past amidst the mystery and suspense—and I enjoyed these many aspects of The Roanoke Girls.

Still, despite my enjoyment, I don’t feel comfortable wholeheartedly recommending this book by Amy Engel. Central to the plot, as readers discover early in the storyline, is a very disturbing element. In a sense, as I tried to understand the characters, this element did prove thought-provoking—yet always remained a bit bothersome. So, readers beware: The Roanoke Girls may not be a good read for every fan of mystery, suspense, and dysfunctional families.


Thanks to Blogging for Books, I received a complimentary copy of The Roanoke Girls and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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