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The Girl Before by Rena Olsen
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The Girl Before (edition 2016)

by Rena Olsen (Author)

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11612104,032 (3.62)11
Member:summerluv
Title:The Girl Before
Authors:Rena Olsen (Author)
Info:G.P. Putnam's Sons (2016), 320 pages
Collections:Already Read, Read in 2017, Audio Book
Rating:***1/2
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The Girl Before by Rena Olsen

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Surface level: fair mystery novel.

Thinking further: many elements of this don't make sense. A human trafficking ring that trains girls for years and sells them as near adults? Nonsense. Weeks and weeks spent in a psych ward as the FBI patiently talks to her five minutes at a time? Yeah, no. The timeline is completely unrealistic. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Jun 5, 2017 |
Human trafficking. I know it happens but it's hard for me to comprehend.

This story is told in alternating times, then and now. This let's us see how the characters became who they turned out to be. I thought the characters were all defined well enough to like or dislike them.

I don't agree with the book being tagged as a thriller so there's that. Otherwise, it was good and I'd recommend it for sure. ( )
  Sharn | May 8, 2017 |
When I reserved this at the library, I thought I was reserving a different book, by the same title. It was not until I started reading that I realized the expected story wasn't being told.

There seem to be a lot of books and stories/tv lately about people kidnapped and recovered, usually involving some sort of sect. This was an engaging read, even when my mind kept screaming at a few of the obvious gaps or holes in the context of the narrative. But, the questions I had didn't interfere with the story itself, and, even though it's not a plot I normally would have chosen, I read it through.

From the publisher:
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. ( )
  bookczuk | Feb 13, 2017 |
Clara Lawson believed that she was living a good life. She had a nice home and a husband who loved her despite using physical force to punish her when he felt she did something wrong. She spent her days caring for and preparing her girls for a good life beyond their compound. However, of those girls did not follow the rules and learn their lessons well, their futures were not as bright. Once night all that changes as strange men enter her home and take her away from everything she knows. Told in sections alternating between the past and present, we learn that Clara was not always Clara, but a kidnapped child named Diana. We also discover much about the family she lived with, as well as her husband. This is a timely look at human trafficking and the price everyone involved with is pays. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Sep 10, 2016 |
My original The Girl Before audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

When I choose to listen to The Girl Before, I only read a portion of the synopsis, see below. I though this was going to be a mystery/thriller in the spy or espionage sub genres. Let me tell you that is not what I got. To be honest I am very happy that I did not get what I was expecting.

"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."

If you actually read the synopsis you will get a pretty good idea of what this story is about. It is really difficult to tell you much about it without giving stuff away. Let me put it this way. If you enjoy psychological thrillers you will be in love with The Girl Before. Starting out slowly and steadily gaining momentum, while each chapter reveals just a little bit more, util the cat is out of the bag. Olsen was able to create very believable characters, heartfelt and gut wrenching scenes and interactions. The transformation that Clara makes is quite inspirational.

Here is something that does not happen to me often. I was effected by this story. This story reached down into my inner self and pulled at my heart. Because of the masterfulness of Olsen's words paired with Pressley's voice I, an almost 40 year old macho man, was brought to tears, more than once. Not just a single sexy tear running down the side of my face either. This was, embarrassingly enough, full on sobbing. From both sadness and joy. I could not stop listening and I am pretty sure you won't either.

Brittany Pressley's performance was quite literally breathtaking, as I found myself holding my breath waiting for her to finish the scene. Characterizations for the male characters was good enough for me, they were different and convincing enough. I am not one that insists that a narrator present a truly believable voice from opposite sex. The range of emotions that she is able to portray was mind bogglingly staggering. Going from the lovey–dovey quickly morphing into extreme fear and agony and everything in between. This was an excellent match of author, story and narrator. One that creates magic.

Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher. ( )
  audiobibliophile | Aug 16, 2016 |
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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.
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