The Girl Before incorporates a dual perspective of both time and characters. The character from the past is Emma. From the present, we have Jane. They have a lot in common, and it starts with them renting a house. The house is very unique. It is austere, and there is a very long list of rules that you must agree to in order to live there.
Both of the girls end up in a relationship with the architect, Edward. As we weave through both of their stories, we see that their relationships are very much the same, following the same patterns as Edward asserts his dominance.
Emma has a violent past. She was attacked in her old apartment where she lived with her boyfriend, Simon. They move into the new house to help Emma get over it. She and Simon soon break up.
Jane's past involves a still-born daughter. She is also trying to heal. Jane finds out that Emma died in this house, and becomes somewhat obsessed with finding out how.
They both find out that Edward's wife and daughter were killed while the house was being built and are forever interred in the foundation.
The Girl Before is a weird story. This house is very high-tech. And between that and the rules, it seems to change the personalities of the people who live there. It's hard to explain without your reading it, and I don't want to spoil too much.
Ultimately, it's a mystery about just what happened to Emma, as well as Edward's family. But the journey to these answers is very entertaining.
I found the lack of quotation marks annoying. And even more annoying is at some points Delaney uses them, and then other times not. It had to do with which character was talking, but it was hard for me to adjust back and forth. I didn't see a need for this technique. In other books like this, I eventually got used to it, but with The Girl Before, it kept switching back and forth.
While I was suitably surprised by the outcome, I still felt the ending needed some more punch. I was expecting a weird, exciting twist, and I just didn't get it. I would still recommend The Girl Before. I found it easy to read and very engaging. I'm not sure I would recommend this to most teens because of the sexual situations; it's definitely an adult book.
Added note: the Amazon entry for this book says it's soon to be a motion picture directed by Ron Howard. I'm looking forward to it.
Published by Ballentine, January 24, 2017
eARC obtained from NetGalley
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