A note to start: I am aware you may have read it the past two years, but, if like me, you like to stay away from the big hypes of the book world, then here is what you need to know about The Good Girl, in five points:
- The Gone Girl comparison: It has been labelled “the next Gone Girl” and (I am glad) it is nothing like it. Don’t be fooled, there are “before” and “after” sections and is told in three points of view – the kidnapper, the hostage’s mother and the investigating inspector. You are always waiting for the twist, wondering if its going to come from the mother’s revelations about their family life or from the revelation about the kidnapper’s life. And this is where the comparison ends. It is a debut novel, and a good one. While the police’s point of view is not very strong compared to the others, what would a kidnapping story be without an investigation?
- The kidnapper: Colin flirts a little with a girl in the bar who has been stood up and gets her to come home with him. But it’s not a one-night-stand, but a kidnapping. Except instead of delivering the girl to his boss, he really kidnaps her, and takes her on the run with him. He is no longer an auxiliary, but the hunted fugitive who has taken a young woman. Why did he take the job? Why did he not stick to the plan? What in this girl made him not want her to be under the victim of his boss? What goes through the head of someone who realises he has gone way over his head in this crime?
- The amnesia: Mia Dennet was kidnapped in a bar. Chloe is the one returned to her family after the police found her; with no memory of what happened to her. She doesn’t remember her name, is convinced she is called Chloe, and cannot remember the time she spent captive in the cabin, who she was with, where it was, or what happened. Sadly, the nature of this amnesia is not explored very much and without a little background knowledge, seems almost unrealistic.
- The family: Eve, Mia’s mother, is the one telling her point of view while James, her father, is in the background. For a long time, he sees it as a farce or childish joke of his free-spirited daughter. As an artist and teacher at an alternative highschool, he does not take her or her disappearance seriously. A mother however always worries about her daughter, even if they don’t have a particularly close relationship and don’t talk regularly; the bond is there. Grace, Mia’s sister, is almost non-existent.
- The family drama: In the centre of the story are the families. Tolstoy was right, “each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. Mia and Colin couldn’t be from more different backgrounds: The son of a sick mother and left by his father abducts the daughter of a judge who grew up in an opulent family home with a stay-at home-mother. Stuck together in a cabin, they get to know each other and Eve, in her reminiscence, evokes family memories of her own. How does a girl from a wealthy family end up an alternative art teacher and a what drives young man to accept a $5,000 job of abducting a girl?
The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica
First published 2014
ISBN 0778316556 ISBN13 9780778316558