Today I am reviewing the thought-provoking thriller Girl One by Sara Flannery Murphy. Many thanks to Sara and Bloomsbury Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.
Eighteen women down to two, two down to…. Girl One.
The world knows them as ‘The Homestead Girls’. Nine women who raised nine ‘miracle babies’ on an experimental commune in rural America.
But after a suspicious fire at the ranch kills both the doctor behind the pioneering experiment and one of the youngest of the girls, the mothers and their children are scattered across the country, some embracing the media spotlight, others refusing to talk about it.
Now years later, Josephine Morrow, aka Girl One, is studying medicine, following in the footsteps of her beloved mentor, when she is called home to discover that her mother has vanished, while her house has been trashed. If Josie is to find her, and find her alive, she will need to track down her estranged sisters and finally confront the secrets of their dark past – before it is too late.
I will admit that I wasn’t too sure what to expect going into this book, the blurb giving an impression that it was part thriller, part sci-fi, and part coming-of-age. That certainly felt like a lot of genres to fit into one book, but Sara Flannery Murphy has somehow managed it.
Girl One tells the story of Josie, a young woman born as a result of a science experiment, as she searches for her mother, and the truth about a series of events that happened when she was a child. The story is interspersed with news articles from the Girls’ childhood and the birthday letters sent to Josie by her “father” Bellanger until he died, and this style had me on edge within a few sentences as it was clear from the outset that there had to be more going on than met the eye, secrets that Josie didn’t know. As Josie reconnects with the other Girls and each shocking revelation about the Homestead and the Girls comes out, life as she knew it unravels around her in ways that I never expected.
The only downside to this book, if you can call it that, is that I wanted more time to get to know each of the girls after their discovery of the truth surrounding their shared history, to see how this changed them, and learn what happened to each of them next. Can it really be a downside to say a book isn’t long enough though? That said, as much as I would love to know more, I suspect a sequel would not work, so perhaps some things are better left to our imaginations.
Girl One is a thought-provoking book examining the power of women, and the increased strength when they come together to support each other and lift each other up. I found the science absolutely fascinating, but it was really the depth of emotion and the ties that bound the Girls together that really drew me into this book.