The Girl Before

Rena Olsen. Putnam, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-101-98235-8
The FBI agents raiding Clara Lawson’s rural homestead in the shadow of the Rockies shatter not only the door but almost every aspect of life as the 23-year-old knows it in therapist Olsen’s suspenseful but disturbing debut about a human trafficking operation. Initially, the only reality Clara can remember is with forbidding Papa G, stern Mama Mae, and their son, Glen. She’s one of an endless stream of girls to be trained for supposedly bright futures with wealthy “clients.” But as her confinement in a psychiatric facility continues, with FBI interrogation, individual therapy sessions, and, eventually, participation in a support group, Clara starts to face some of the darker aspects of her past—and the gut-wrenching choices that will define her future. Olsen does her best to make Clara sympathetic, but Clara’s rosy naïveté about the horrific reality of her situation can be difficult to take. Readers will struggle to relate to a character who may be at once a victim and a victimizer. Agent: Sharon Pelletier, Dystel & Goderich. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2016
Release date: 08/09/2016
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-451-48667-7
Prebound-Glued - 320 pages - 978-0-606-38855-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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