Girl at the Edge by Karen Dietrich, is a different kind of psychological suspense novel. It focuses on Evelyn, a young woman who is marked by the unenviable distinction that the father she’s never known is a mass murderer sitting on death row. Her affiliated infamy has her retreating from the public as much as possible; being home-schooled on line and having few friends. Girl at the Edge for Kindle

Initially, Evelyn and her life seem quite ordinary, but she is revealed to be increasingly more complex. She squirrels away on-line information about her father. She is obsessed by Letters from the Death House; a blog of letters written by death row inmate Andrew Randolph Vail to his sister Sherry, and she keeps her own chronicle: The Catalogue of Everything I’ve Done Wrong.

Even though her father’s “event” occurred shortly before she was born, to help her cope with that and her associated notoriety, her mother encourages the trepidatious Evelyn to attend a support group for children of incarcerated parents. There she meets Clarice, her new confidant and soul mate.

Clarice’s boldness brings out Evelyn’s honesty. Together they forge an unbreakable friendship while they explore their fears and views of life without the judgement that the rest of the world imparts upon them. Along the way, they discuss their fear of whether or not they share their parents’ propensity to kill. That leads to a chilling challenge for them to find out.

Evelyn’s mind plays tricks on her which warps her sense of reality; something that the author uses to her advantage.

A book that explores Evelyn’s life, mind and perceptions, Girl at the Edge by Karen Dietrich starts out innocuously, but then it grows on you. When it builds to become chilling and sinister, the reader is totally hooked and can’t get enough. And then there’s the shocker…

Very thought-provoking, Girl at the Edge raises a multitude of questions regarding capital punishment the nature/nurture debate, and personal choice and responsibility.

My pet peeve with Karen Dietrich’s Girl at the Edge is the abrupt ending. I do not enjoy it when authors leave their readers hanging. In my opinion, that detracts from the enjoyment of the novel.

Regardless of whether it stimulates thought and discussion, if there is no sequel, I do not want what happens next left to speculation. A good book like Girl at the Edge needs a sense of closure for complete reader satisfaction.

That piece is missing for me.

Still, as a debut novel, Girl at the Edge is a good read.

Following the story, Girl at the Edge features a Q & A session with Karen Dietrich and a reading group guide are provided, as well as an interesting note from Dietrich to her readers explaining how Girl at the Edge came to be. The personal connection is a nice touch.

Girl at the Edge
Karen Dietrich
Grand Central Publishing 2020
368 pages

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