Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Those Girls

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens
St. Martin's Press: 7/7/2015
eBook Review copy, 384 pages
hardcover ISBN-13:


My Thoughts:

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens is a very highly recommended novel about three sisters trying to escape and survive in a world set against them. Great novel, perfect stay-up-all-night-at-the-airport book (but be by a security guard station), an accomplished thriller that held my rapt attention from beginning to end! 

It's the summer of 1997 and those girls are the Campbell sisters who live in a run-down house on a ranch in Western Canada by the Alberta/British Columbia border. Jess (just turning 15), Courtney (16 1/2) and Dani (almost 18) have had a hard life for years. After their mother died, they were foster care for a while because their father was unemployed and drinking heavily. Then their father regained custody, promising to stay sober. Now he's off working in the Alberta oil fields for three weeks at a time, only coming back, maybe, for one week out of the month to see how the girls are and, sometimes, buy groceries. The girls help out with work on the ranch to help pay the rent. The trouble is their father is drinking again, and when he drinks he is abusive. 

When he comes back drunk for the final night, he has heard some rumors around town about Courtney. To punish her, he burns Courtney with a hot pan and then tries to drown her in a toilet.  Dani and Jess are watching and trying to stop him. Dani gets the shot gun out, but Jess is the one who uses it to save Courtney's life. Now the girls are on the run, headed to Vancouver, where they are sure they can blend into the city and make a new life for themselves.

Along the way their truck breaks down near the small town of Cash Creek. When two brothers, Brian and Gaven Luxton, stop and offer to help, all three of the girls sense that something isn't right, but they are desperate. The brothers tell them that they can work on the ranch to earn the money to pay for the repairs needed on their truck. Feeling trapped and hoping they are just being alarmists, they decide to trust the brothers. And then things get really bad.... 

The sisters do finally make it to Vancouver with the help of a few good men, where they change their names (to Jamie, Crystal, and Dallas Caldwell) and make a life for themselves. But the past is not quite through with them yet and now they have even more to lose. They have all done an excellent job avoiding sharing information about their past and trying to get on with their lives, but the truth is always with them, and there are events that will always haunt them.

As I was reading Those Girls I had two quotes running through my head: "Women have got to make the world safe for men since men have made it so darned unsafe for women." (Nancy Astor) and "A girl child ain't safe in a family of mens..." (Sofia from The Color Purple by Alice Walker). Most women will understand that, even today, the world is not safe for women in so many ways.

The novel is divided into three parts. The first part of the story opens in July 1997 and is narrated by Jess. The second part jumps ahead to July 2015 and is narrated by a new character. The third part is narrated by Jess/Jamie, with an epilogue by Dani/Dallas.

I was absolutely, totally engaged with Those Girls from beginning to end. The writing is superb, the story is fast-paced and emotional, and the suspense is taut and nerve wracking. Chevy Stevens has done it again. This is a book that should be on everyone's list as a best book of the summer. Look for it's release on July 7th. (Although men may not quite respond to it as much as women - that whole unsafe reality women have to deal with while even walking to their cars at the grocery store.)

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of St. Martin's Press for review purposes.

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