The Girl Before by Rena Olsen



Book Blurb from

Release Date: August 9,2016

In this powerful psychological suspense debut, when a woman’s life is shattered, she is faced with a devastating question: What if everything she thought was normal and good and true . . . wasn’t?

Clara Lawson is torn from her life in an instant. Without warning, her home is invaded by armed men, and she finds herself separated from her beloved husband and daughters. The last thing her husband yells to her is to say nothing.

In chapters that alternate between past and present, the novel slowly unpeels the layers of Clara’s fractured life. We see her growing up, raised with her sisters by the stern Mama and Papa G, becoming a poised and educated young woman, falling desperately in love with the forbidden son of her adoptive parents.

We see her now, sequestered in an institution, questioned by men and women who call her a different name—Diana—and who accuse her husband of unspeakable crimes. As recollections of her past collide with new revelations, Clara must question everything she thought she knew, to come to terms with the truth of her history and to summon the strength to navigate her future.

My Review:

This novel is a psychological thriller. I wish I could go into more detail about the book, but you will thank me that I did not!

Claire Lawson’s home is invaded and she is arrested along with her husband Glenn. She has been instructed to say nothing to the police by Glenn and her mother-in-law. The police need her assistance to put her husband and others behind bars. Claire is devoted to her husband and wants nothing more than to protect him. She misses her family and wants to go back to her former life.

While in police custody, Claire is unhelpful and will not eat or talk. After being sent to prison for a day, she becomes frightened and becomes more receptive  to assisting the detectives. Claire is made to see a counselor while attending a women’s support group. At first she is in denial, not understanding how she fits into this group of women and their feelings. Slowly, she begins to learn that her family has been a lie. Though counseling, she opens up about her life before the raid and begins to trust the people around her. She begins to understand that not only was she a victim of a crime but a perpetrator as well.

I enjoyed this fast paced novel. I loved how the chapters alternated between “Then” and “Now”,  pulling the story of Claire’s life together. This is one of the best thrillers that I have read in 2016.  Another great novel by a debut author!


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