The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a tale that occurs in two timelines that are woven together so wonderfully. I was so impressed by all the smaller details that went into this storyline and how it all built up to that ending!
This is a book that I already cannot wait to read again!
Full disclosure: I was gifted an ARC of this book from a fellow blogging friend, Chris Wolak of WildMooBooks (thanks again, Chris!!). Any quotes I have pulled out in my review below may no longer be accurate, unfortunately I was not yet able to compare it to the final version.
My Thoughts on The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
In this novel, we follow two timelines;
- Vermont in 1950– In this timeline, we focus on a group of girls at a boarding school, called Idlewild Hall, who are struggling to keep their cool under the pressures of their personal histories and frustrations with their families, keeping up with school work, dealing with rough women that oversee the girls, and, most terrifyingly, the ghost named Mary Hand that haunts the school and who has been making more frequent appearances. But then one day, one of the girls goes missing.
- Vermont in 2014– In this timeline, we focus on a journalist named Fiona Sheridan who’s sister was found murdered and dumped on the field of Idlewild Hall. When Fiona hears that someone has purchased the property and wants to renovate it, she convinces the local paper to let her cover the story, much to her boyfriends dismay. And the boyfriend? He’s a cop. The two struggle with a bit of a Romeo and Juliet situation, but both become heavily invested in the story that they begin to uncover.
I usually don’t like dual timelines simply because I tend to prefer one timeline over the other, and sometimes the organization confuses me. However, these two timelines were both written and organized very well! I loved each of the timelines, and I really enjoyed how each of them held their own levels of suspense. I loved how many different side stories were also woven into the overall storyline. I was super impressed when each of the smaller elements began coming together toward the end.
The characters were so interesting! I loved learning more about each of the girls from 1950 whether that was through their timeline or through what Fiona was uncovering in her timeline. I was just so antsy to learn what each of the girls histories were and how they ended up at Idlewild Hall. I also really enjoyed Fiona, the main character from the 2014 timeline, and how brave and determined she was to find answers.
When it comes to the suspense, I definitely felt that there was an overall chilling factor, but the suspense didn’t really ramp up until the middle of the book. However, toward the end, that’s when things got really intense!
But the mystery? Wonderfully done! From the very first page to the very last page, this tale had me totally captivated.
My Favorite Passages on The Broken Girls
This was a detail that was rubbing her raw, keeping her wound bleeding, long after everyone else had tied their bandages and hobbled away. She should grab a crutch – alcohol or drugs were the confident ones – and start hobbling with the rest of them.
There was something soothing and meditative about the side of a road, a place most people passed by. As a child she’d spent car rides looking out the window, thinking of the places they passed, wondering what it would be like to stop there, or there, or there. It had never been enough for her just to get from one place to another.
That twenty-year-old fear was buried deep in the tenor of his voice, but Fiona could hear it. It was like a whistle on a dog’s frequency, that fear. Only someone who felt the same would know.
Fiona arrived at Margaret Eden’s home at Mitchell Place, a gated community of expensive townhouse built during the book years before the 2008 crash. Even then, the neighborhood’s existence had hinged more on hope than on actual local wealth; there wasn’t much demand for “executive” homes for wealthy professionals in Barrons, and the houses had taken years longer to complete than planned.
Fiona thought about this, still staring at her ceiling. The story itself was a horror so large it threatened to overtake everything in its path. She had to try to control it, not to let the nightmare send her off the path of what she was really after.
Roberta Greene tilted her head up slowly, then looked up at the ceiling, and Fiona watched grief fall over her like a blanket. The old woman blinked, still looking up, and two tears tracked down her parchment cheeks. Her sadness was so fresh, so raw, it was as if none of the years has happened at all.
And for the first time in twenty years, Fiona let the words into her head, like a cold draft from a cracked window: Could they have gotten it wrong?
CeCe’s anger was like an overfilled balloon she couldn’t tuck away and didn’t want to touch it for fear it would explode.
My Final Thoughts on The Broken Girls
I thought that this book was very well written and the flow of the storyline made it so difficult to put down! From all of the smaller details that were woven in and the organization of the overall storyline, to the development of the characters and how they all interacted with one another, this was such a great story. I was totally sucked in while reading and it had me guessing right up until the very end. I already cannot wait to reread this one!
I cannot wait to check out more from Simone St. James!
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Thanks for reading!
Have you read this book or any other works from this author? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts!