What They Say....Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?
On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.
What I Say....I've read a few of Lisa Jewell's books, and I always love the complicated family dynamics that are her hallmark. The Girls in the Garden definitely shows her mark.
The story starts out with Pip finding her sister unresponsive, with her clothing pulled off of her in the middle of the park after dark, but then quickly backtracks into the months prior to the attack.
Pip and Grace's father has had a schizophrenic break, burning their house down before he was committed to a mental health facility. This leads to them moving into a small home backed up to the communal park shared by many families.
The girls quickly befriend the hippie family with three strange, homeschooled daughters who roam the park freely - kind of like free range parenting. Add in another little girl, who is jealous of the attention the new arrivals are receiving and a cute boy, and you are set up for pre-teen hormones and drama.
Adding to the weirdness is the fact that most of the kids parents also grew up in these houses, and one of their friends was killed when they were all teens. The mystery was never solved, and they all still seem to suspect each other's involvement in some latent way.
Adele and Leo have his father staying with them while he has a foot amputated due to diabetes, and he is a perv, and just a generally awful human. Leo is a bit of a question mark, you wonder how far the apple falls from that tree, and he has a history of liking pretty young girls. And Adele seems to live in lala land, so you can't be sure she has a solid grasp on anything happening right under her nose.
I enjoyed the book and it was very complicated, as all relationships tend to be, but I do feel that at the end, it was all wrapped up too quickly and too neatly.