Publication Date: 8/9/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
THE GIRL BEFORE is a riveting complex psychological suspense debut by Rena Olsen, where lines are blurred, between victim and perpetrator, from then and now.
A well-written, disturbing portrayal of human trafficking, the haunting damage-and the road to acceptance, healing, and recovery.
As the novel opens, Clara Lawson is separated from her daughters and husband. This is not an ordinary home invasion or kidnapping. Glen her husband tells her to say nothing. Now Glen is in jail. Why, she wonders.
Not your ordinary “run of the mill” mystery suspense; told in alternating chapters, we hear from a confused woman who is dedicated to her husband and daughters.
From “now” and “then” we hear from Clare-mysterious and dark, a broken life, from counseling sessions, a naïve young girl, the past is slowly unraveled, from a family business, innocent girls, and a haunting sex trafficking operation.
Why does Clare think she has a loving husband and family? Yet the girls in the support group are saying something different? Surely, she was no part of this life. Is she in denial? Has she been brainwashed by these people?
She has been a part of this family of Mama and Papa G, the owners and then a relationship with Glen, their son. (All calculating, ruthless, and controlling). The son takes over the business. Where does Clara fit and her role? Who are the girls which she calls her daughters? Why does everyone think her husband is a monster? She needs to keep quiet to protect her husband.
Is she responsible for causing harm to other girls? What about her own family? When everything Clara thought was good and perfect; in reality, is dark and evil. Will they ever know freedom? From trafficking and murder. Guilt and atoning for sins.
From an institution, a psychiatric facility, FBI interrogations, therapy, and support groups, she is called another name, “Diana.” They are accusing her husband of horrific crimes. What darkness was she involved in, and what part did she play with the lives of other innocent girls?
Will she face the real truth about her past and be able to move on with the future?
"Every choice is an intricate result of many factors." When getting in a car with someone leads to consequences. For many rescue comes too late.
The author cleverly crafts a disturbing look at a woman who appears to be in denial. As a reader you are hearing of daughters, which are not her children, but the girls she grew up with at Mama and Papa’s house.
As we often read, in this type of situations, the girls have been told they were not wanted by their parents and have been taken in by this couple. They all are trained for their clients (men). From young girls and women--- the author delves into the psychological mind of a woman which is both the victim, and the victimizer.
At times you will want to shake Clara for being naïve; however, as you move along when the reality comes, the novel really takes shape when all of the pieces of the puzzle become connected. I also purchased the Audible version, while traveling, narrated by Brittany Pressley for an emotionally charged performance.
An impressive gripping debut, keeping readers glued to the pages to learn Clare’s real story. The suspense and tension is slow burning, and you know something else is coming next lurking around the corner.
The author’s background is reflected throughout the pages, with her vast expertise: a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Also a licensed therapist.
Highly recommend to psychological suspense fans. A definite author to follow! Cannot wait to see what’s next.