The American Girl
By Kate Horsley
On a quiet summer morning, seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch. Barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her, Quinn’s appearance creates quite a stir, especially since the Blavettes—the French family with whom she’s been staying—have mysteriously disappeared.
Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl had anything to do with her host family’s disappearance.
Though she is cynical about the media circus that suddenly forms around the girl, Boston journalist Molly Swift cannot deny she is also drawn to the mystery and travels to St. Roch. She is prepared to do anything to learn the truth, including lying so she can get close to Quinn. But when a shocking discovery turns the town against Quinn and she is arrested for the murders of the Blavette family, she finds an unlikely ally in Molly.
As a trial by media ensues, Molly must unravel the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American Girl makes a very compelling murder suspect. Is Quinn truly innocent and as much a victim as the Blavettes—or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder…?
I really enjoyed this fast-paced thriller and felt myself pulled into it to the point where I became annoyed when things interrupted my reading (like work, eating, etc.) However, without giving away anything the ending left me dissatisfied. I can’t exactly pinpoint why either , I don’t know if it was that the ending felt a bit abrupt or just that it wasn’t quite how I wanted and expected it to end, but having said this I would still recommend reading this book as on the whole it was a brilliant read.
I liked that Quinn’s chapters in this book were in the form of a video diary as directed by her therapist, the mention that the first chapter was in the form of a video diary was intriguing and got me wondering what was happening.
“You ever have one of those Magic 8 Balls as a kid? Yeah, pretty retro, I know. I remember asking mine if Adam Epstein was planning on asking me to senior prom…and shook it again, and again and again until I got the answer I wanted…I’m that 8 Ball, y’know. Shake me once – one answer bubbles to the surface. Shake me twice – I say something different. Might not be the thing you want to hear though. I can’t help it. Those puzzle pieces are all in there somewhere I know it. They’re waiting for the right person to fit them together. That must be why they keep shaking me over and over and over, asking the same question: where is the family?”
Quinn is a 17 year old American girl staying with a French family as part of an exchange programme. One night Quinn wakes up in the woods, not knowing how she got there and all she knows is that she is scared and has to get away. Instinctively she is worried someone is following her and she begins to run until she is hit by a car and left for dead. A German couple film the incident by accident and upload it to YouTube where it goes viral and gets picked up by the news channels.
From Quinn’s old posts on her blog we learn that she thinks she had a stalker, a stalker who sent her creepy snapchat videos and photos of herself.
Chapter 2 introduces us to Molly Swift, the American presenter of a podcast on miscarriages of justice and police corruption. The show is called ‘American confessional.” The nuns looking after Quinn hear Molly’s accent and assume she is Quinn’s aunt. From her we learn the family she was staying with, the Blavettes, are missing.
As Molly gets drawn in deeper has she put herself in danger and what will Quinn say when she wakes up to Molly claiming to be her aunt?
It became one of those stories everyone is curious about, one of those mysteries everyone wants to solve. That pretty much sums up the book for me, it was a mystery I wanted to solve. I enjoyed the way some of the bits of information were given to the reader in the form of her former video logs.
To the outside the Blavettes look like a normal, functional family but the reality seems to differ somewhat.
“one minute the Blavette’s were a normal(ish)happy(ish) family – the son a star athlete, just beginning his university career in film making, the daughter a shy girl who loved ballet and ponies and boy bands, the mom a former head teacher…And what of the American girl who they’d invited to be part of their family for a summer? How does she fit into this picture?”
I liked the character of Quinn, her strength and her hidden vulnerability. In some ways it was easy to see what had led her to this set of circumstances in her life. The suicide of her mother, and the idea that her father appeared to blame her in some way, had both majorly had an effect on her not least in terms of her need for affection and her deliberate ignorance of her situation.
Noemie was an interesting character. Described in one quote as being quiet but at several times in the book she appears slightly controlling and bitchy. Her brother Raphael appears to be very charming and genuinely interested in what Quinn has to say. Emelie opens up her home to exchange students but even her own family call her a bitch and her relationship with her daughter is clearly destructive and toxic.
I did manage to guess one of the major plot twists in the book fairly early on but that didn’t really mind as the book was still extremely readable and I wasn’t certain for a long time if I was right or not.
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