Wednesday, December 28, 2022

December Read: The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda


This was my third book for the Iowa High School Battle of the Books. While it was the shortest novel out of the three, it took me the longest! 

I enjoy suspenseful, thriller fiction, but I hadn't read any of Megan Miranda's novels until this one. My hopes were high...and darn it all they were a bit deflated. 

Arden Maynor became an overnight sensation as a small child when she disappeared from home one night and days later was found clinging to a storm drain in a drainage ditch. The story was that she was sleepwalking and was swept away by rainwater, and somehow miraculously survived days trapped in this drain. Arden and her mother became famous. 

Now the twentieth year anniversary is coming up, and Arden is now Olivia, living miles away from Widow Hills. She's an administrator at a local hospital, and still, to this day, her memories of what happened are fuzzy. She only wants to forget. That fame twisted her mother, who Olivia stopped speaking to a few years back. Now she is notified her mother is dead, and a box arrives with her mother's paltry collection of things. 

Olivia has trouble sleeping, and finds herself once again sleepwalking-and one night, she wakes up outside and stumbles on a body in her yard. WHAT? 

That's where this thriller starts ramping up. It takes a while for the action to get moving, and that was frustrating to me. Olivia is the ultimate unreliable narrator, because she just can't remember anything about the past, and she's chronically tired and drinks wine to help herself fall asleep. So is she paranoid, or does she have legitimate concerns when she feels like she's being watched? Living in a house out in the sticks, with only one close neighbor also adds to her sense of isolation. 

It was only after I'd finished the book, and discussed it with another person who also read it, that I began to think "okay, it actually was a better than I thought read." Before that, I was not that thrilled with it. The end seemed rushed, after the slooooow build up of action. Not only are you trying to figure out what the heck is going on in present time, but there are bits and pieces of the story of Arden's rescue from twenty years before sprinkled before chapters to help you get a better picture of what happened. It is important to read those!

So, I am on the fence with this one. I will probably read another Megan Miranda novel to see if this was just an off read for me. It's definitely a book you will have to discuss with someone else, and pick it apart. There's a lot going on here, and a lot of dots to connect. 

Rating: 3/6 for a thriller that has pacing problems, and an unreliable narrator that makes it feel like you're walking into walls trying to piece it all together and follow the story. That may be deliberate on the author's part, but I found it to be a bit too much. It's an interesting look at how the media can affect a life and the damage it can do to ordinary people. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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