I received The Girl Who Stayed by Tanya Anne Crosby from TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. This book took me a little while to get into, but I was able to read most of the last 200 pages in one day. While I did enjoy the book, I found some of it slightly predictable, and the ending seemed abrupt and rushed.
“Zoe Rutherford wasn’t sure what she was expecting when she returned to Sullivan’s Island. The house on Sullivan’s hadn’t represented home to her in decades. It was the place where she endured her father’s cruelty. It was the place where her mother closed herself off from the world. It was the place where her sister disappeared. But now that her parents are gone, Zoe needs to return to the house, to close it down and prepare it for sale. She intends to get this done as quickly as possible and get on with the rest of her life, even though that life seems clouded by her past, both distant and recent. But what she discovers when she gets there is far beyond her imagining and will change her in profound ways.”
Sullivan’s Island is in South Carolina, not far from Charleston. It is the place where Edgar Allen Poe was stationed and is the setting of much of his short story “The Gold-Bug.” It was the port of entry for a large amount of slaves brought from Africa, was a site of a major battle in the American Revolution, and was very much destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. All of these historical facts are incorporated into the book, making the island itself almost a living character in the story. Part of the beach called the Breach is a very dangerous place because of strong undertows and this is an important part of the book as well.
Zoe, the main character of the book, is very much a “girl who stayed,” as the title indicates. She has finally left her abusive boyfriend after 8 years of staying with him. Throughout the book, she questions her reasons for staying with him for so long. However, it is obvious that Zoe grew up in a dysfunctional home, and the treatment she received from her father allowed her to grow into a woman who thought that she deserved abuse. As a child, Zoe was accused of being the one who killed her sister, whose body was never found. Her sister’s disappearance still haunts her and is part of her reason for returning to her childhood home on Sullivan’s Island. Zoe has the need for closure in her sister’s disappearance and begins to question people who remember the event. With current news stories regarding other missing women, the pieces begin to come together – almost too late for Zoe!
When Zoe realizes what actually happened to her sister, the book rushes to a quick ending. I would have appreciated maybe one more chapter with more description of the conclusion to Zoe’s story.
What have you been reading lately?