Title: The Girl Who Stayed
Author: Tanya Anne Crosby
2016 – Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
The Story: After years of running from responsibility and her past, Zoe Rutherford returns to the island where she grew up in order to take care of the family’s home, which has fallen into disrepair due to years of neglect. From the moment she steps foot onto the island, she is beset by memories of her sister, who went missing as a child and was never found. She also must come to terms with the realities of her family and the culture in which she grew up, exploring how that has shaped her as an adult. Dealing with these family skeletons only adds anxiety, as Zoe also faces a grumpy neighbor, an abusive ex, an attentive man who happens to be the police chief’s son, and the fact that women are going missing and a murderer may be running loose on the island.
Review: For me, the book started off really slowly. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is actual truth or if it is due to the current reading slump in which I find myself. It’s been a couple of weeks now with no end in sight. Regardless, I read the book in fits and starts, a chapter here, ten pages there. As I read, the story started to slowly draw me in.
I love novels that are set on the coast – they just feel so atmospheric and set such a believable scene. So the backdrop of the low country, the small details of living by the ocean, the small town behaviors and habits, these things really provide a great setting for a story which is ultimately about facing the past, realizing that it has an impact on who you grow up to be, and learning to love yourself.
I had a couple of issues with transitions – sometimes it wasn’t quite clear to me when the story transitioned from present to past. Nothing that can’t be cleared up with further reading, of course, but it did leave me confused a couple of times.
Overall, Zoe’s story felt really authentic. She often makes the point that she wouldn’t have believed that she could end up a victim of domestic abuse, which could really hit home with other women who have found themselves in situations that they can’t quite understand. For Zoe, when it rains, it storms, but it didn’t really feel overdone or too much. It just read like real life. Even in the midst of a slump, this book was a quick read that I enjoyed.