#BookReview – The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown (@karenbrownbooks) – @Atriabooks
The Longings of Wayward Girls – Karen Brown
It was the summer of 1979. We’re introduced to Sadie Watkins. A young girl with a vivid imagination and aspirations, intent on leaving her small Connecticut town.
It is now the fall of 2003. Sadie Watkins is now Sadie Stahl. Sadie has married and is now with two young children, yet, still in same small Connecticut town. Not much has changed.
“Wayward Girls” tells the story of Sadie Watkins as both a young girl and as a mother of two. As a young girl we find Sadie and her friend pull off a prank that goes terribly wrong (Hey, don’t hate! No spoiler here, it’s on the back of the book’s sleeve description!). As an adult we find Sadie Stahl encountering a person from the past of 1979. Let the fun begin as the past and present intersect to tell the story of a young girl coming of age and of a woman who has fallen into the same path as her mother.
Told in both third person past tense and first person present tense as she switches from a young Sadie to an older Sadie, respectively, Karen Brown does a brilliant job and describing the atmosphere and setting of a small town. I’m too young to know what 1979 in a small sub-urban town may have been like, but Ms. Brown presents to the reader a vivid description throughout the novel of the feelings, the sounds, and the sights of what it must be like. It’s not just 1979. Ms. Brown does an excellent job of character development of Sadie to us, the reader, as the novel progresses.
That said, from a technical standpoint, I loved it. However, I hated the story itself.
Antipathy and pity toward our “protagonist,” Sadie, is what I felt (as I’ve mentioned in a previous book review: if you can feel something about the character(s), the author must be doing something right vs. feeling apathetic). I can understand the decisions Sadie has made but from the outside looking in, I wanted to throw this book many times. I’ve sent texts to a friend as to how much I hated this and I felt like I had to soldier through this novel. But then it picked up 200 pages later. Yes, I said 200 pages later (out of 300 plus).
I’m going to backtrack a bit. I had described this book as “fiction.” Expanding on that, Goodreads.com has tags that describe this as fiction suspense, thriller, and/or psychological thriller. It’s not. It really is just romance fiction with elements of “thriller.” It’s not until the final 100 pages that the “thriller” kicks in, and even then, I found it far from thrilling although I must admit, it was an intelligent, well thought out, unconvoluted wrap up to the story.
I read that someone stopped reading with about 50 pages left in the book before (s)he gave up and didn’t care how it ended. For me? “Wayward Girls” is like one of those TV Shows/Movies where you’ve already vested so much time into it that you have to see it through. And to be honest, despite the arduous 200 page journey, the destination was grand.
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