The Girls in the Garden

Lisa Jewell (The Making of Us, The Third Wife) does a beautiful job of creating large companies of detailed and believable characters in her novels. Some are likable, some are not, and Jewell carefully explores what makes each of them tick, from the unstable to the overachievers to those in search of love.

The Girls in the Garden is no exception, featuring a cast of families who live around the same exclusive garden square in a London neighborhood. The communal space creates a lovely intimacy among the residents, and the teens and preteens of the surrounding flats and houses run wild in it with the blessing of their parents. Then the dreadful moment at the midsummer party when 12-year-old Pip discovers her 13-year-old sister, Grace, bleeding and unconscious, ruptures their placid way of life, and brings old secrets to the surface.

Begging the question of whether anyone ever truly knows their neighbors, The Girls in the Garden is a delicate exploration of teenage love and rivalry, mental illness and how far people will go to protect those they care about. The way Jewell structures the novel--beginning with Pip finding Grace, and then flashing back to six months earlier--leaves the reader eager to find out what ultimately happens. Fans of Liane Moriarty and JoJo Moyes will love The Girls in the Garden, as will anyone who remembers the angst and ecstasy of being a teenager. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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