Welcome back to another book review! I know I’ve been focusing on other things such as WWW Wednesdays and inside survival recently, but it’s time to go back to my roots. This time I’m looking at Holly Jackson’s debut YA novel, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.
This year has really seen me embracing the whole young adult genre, and although I’ve talked about that properly in previous posts (tongue twister, you’re welcome), it’s worth touching on again, because without that I wouldn’t have encountered this novel. It’s one that I had seen shared quite a lot on social media, especially bookstagram, so I added it to my wish list on Amazon for future notice. Then all the beautiful, wonderful, happy things started happening on book Twitter – there were wish list threads, for sharing and gifting, and I was lucky enough that someone sent me a copy of A Good Girl’s Guide.
The wish list sharing threads deserve their own post honestly, as the sunshine that radiates out from all the kindness shared has been really getting me through the day. In these difficult times, knowing that a stranger on the internet cares about how you are doing makes such a remarkable difference. I’ve sent a few things, and been lucky enough to also receive some in return. I will return to this as a post at a later date, but for now, let’s return to the review.
The novel focuses in on Pippa, who is approaching her final year of school as the novel begins. Writing her specialist essay in preparation for her university applications, Pip decides to focus on one of the most mysterious moments of her little town’s history: the disappearance, and now classified as murder, of another teenage girl five years ago. Pip doesn’t believe that the boy who was slammed as a murderer and monster committed any crime, and she’s determined to find the truth.
We follow Pip’s investigation via various snapshots; a combination of third person interactions, Pip’s research journal, text messages and emails, and even diary entries. The selection of sources of information makes you feel as if you are almost investigating the case yourself, drawing you in deeper, questioning everything you see. Pippa obviously knows more than we do about certain things with it being her town, but the amount we can put together from what is presented to us makes for an interesting read.
I must admit what I really loved about this was that it can’t simply be dismissed as ‘just’ young adult fiction. It was dramatic, intense, painful, well written, and – most importantly – kept me guessing until the very end. There were pieces I had put together, but pieces I also had no idea existed, and watching it all unfold was just as exciting as any ‘grown up’ murder mystery.
Pip is quirky and loveable, full of passion for what she is investigating, with a really strong sense of justice. The friend she finds in Ravi is a beautiful friendship, if a little unrealistic at times; they become very close very quickly, where you have to imagine some hesitation would be. However, it is fiction, and I have to remind myself sometimes that not everything has to be a perfect representation of a realistic friendship when it comes to works of fiction, and really, if I had a friend like the friend Pip finds in Ravi, I would be quite happy.
Another real beauty about this book is how accurately it describes the impact of grief. Throughout the novel there are various examples of people who have lost someone they loved dearly, and the way that all of these people are given their own tale, and their own experience of grief, really gives credit to the author and her capabilities.
I found there was a perfect balance in this novel between the serious crime investigation and the lighthearted teenage moments of joy; the cruel and nasty paths the storyline winds down, and also the beautiful use of language, balancing out the harshness of the tale. It strikes this delicate balance so perfectly that it is easy to get utterly absorbed by it, and I did.
The second book, Good Girl, Bad Blood, is due out in a month, on 30th April, and you can be completely and utterly sure that I have preordered it. I am totally ready for my next dose of Pip already, and if that isn’t the sign of good character building, I don’t know what is!
I’m still not sure who from book Twitter sent this book my way as there was no note, but here is another thank you for it, as it really has brightened up inside time,