The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Ohhhh, it’s Saturday, and it’s dark and cold here {which I love}, so it seems appropriate to continue with the mystery binge I’ve been on. That’s why we’re going to talk about a book that I devoured because I would probably have cried if I had to put it down.

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Title: The Girl Before {320 pgs}

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Summary:

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Wow. This book. There are a thousand things I want to say about this book and I’m going to be so careful not to say them all because spoilers, sweetie.

We start off with Emma and Simon, a young couple who have just experienced a terrible break-in and are looking to start fresh somewhere new. They find One Folgate Street, the kind of place meant for museums and not really to live in. But they move in anyway, because Emma believes that this house will change her life, and Simon, madly in love with her, agrees to make her happy.

Their story is broken up by Jane, a woman in the very near future who has gone through her own terrible loss and decides that she can’t live in her place anymore. Enter One Folgate Street and the odd stories that surround it: the architect is slightly insane, his wife and child died from a mysterious accident, and the girl before {who has more than a passing resemblance to Jane} has met a similar, dark fate.

Both women take on the house – and the architect, Edward Monkford – and decide that it’s going to change their lives for the best. What they don’t understand is that the house seems to have a mind of its own and the real danger lies closer than they think.

Man, oh man. What can I say about this book that won’t give everything away? Emma and Jane are two complete different women when we’re introduced to them, but as we get closer to the end of their stories, we realize that maybe they’re not as different as we thought. Lies pile up around Emma’s feet the deeper we read into her, but she’s so skillful at twisting out of them that we begin to wonder if they were really lies in the first place. Jane is curious and quiet, a combination that leaves a lot to the imagination, but then when she finally talks, you might want to shove all those words back in. They’re both messy and cunning, but only one of them truly gets what she wants at the end, and even that might be tainted.

There are so many twists in this story, and the characters are written in such a way that you actually feel betrayed when a new lie pops up. I had become so invested in Emma and Jane, and when someone pointed out something that didn’t make much sense, it’s almost offensive how wrong that person is, of course, because these two women have gone through horrible things and you only want the best for them. Until you realize who they are and then maybe the best seems like a little too much. But everyone in this story is flawed: Simon, the loving boyfriend; Edward, the slightly {more than slightly} mad architect. Everyone is an absolute mystery, so, really, they’re all kind of perfect for one another.

Look, the only thing screaming through my head is that I want everyone to read it so we can all yell at each other about the ending. Both endings. Because this is not a book to be silent about. This is a book to furiously whisper about while glaring at everyone else that hasn’t read it, because come on! Read this book!

Please, I’m about to go crazy and my cat has heard my thoughts of this book one too many times.

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