[Review] The Girl Before

Unfolding like a crime drama in the first few lines, this debut psychological suspense novel is full of surprises with an intriguing protagonist and surprising revelations.

Clara Lawson is not your typical heroine. As the FBI breaks down the doors to her secluded home and her husband and “daughter” are separated from her, she appears to be the co-conspirator in a human trafficking ring. Her husband, Glen, shouts, “Say nothing!” as they are pulled into separate vehicles, leading the agents to wonder how much this woman knows. As the story unfolds the reader is transported back and forth in time to the “Now,” in a psychiatric holding facility, and “Then,” a piece by piece description of the life she’s known being raised by Mama and Papa G.

Through her relationship with her mandatory therapist, Clara slowly realizes that what she felt was a normal life was anything but, and the people she had lived with and trusted and turned her into an unwitting accomplice to their crimes. She begins to question her fierce loyalty as she realizes how much they have lied to her and how much of her life they hid from her, including her real name.

The book is a very atypical look at the topic of human trafficking. The line between victim and villain blur as Clara makes realizations about her own knowledge of the family business and coming to terms with the actions she could have taken to stop it.

Olsen’s perspective on a dark subject sheds light on the dichotomy between guilt and innocence by taking a plot that could turn cliché very quickly and leaving the reader with the harsh reality that these lives are changed forever. There is no sugar coating or happily-ever-afters. However, Olsen leaves the reader with a hope that Clara can become her true self despite the conditioning of her upbringing.


Featured image credit: huboaxaca.org

5 thoughts on “[Review] The Girl Before

  1. The subject matter is typically to dark for me to choose to read. However the review has peeked my interest emough that I would like to read it.

  2. This is my Creative Writing teacher, and she is a fantastic human. She talked about this book in class and now after reading her review I definitely want to read this book!

  3. I had heard about this book and was on the fence about reading it but now I am for sure going to read it! It seems really interesting and a person with the last name Paradise likes it then I should like it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *