All the world’s a stage and human lives are a mess. Love psychological thrillers? You might like The Prized Girl!
Amy K. Green
January 14, 2020
Blurb: From debut author Amy K. Green comes a devastating tale of psychological suspense: a teen pageant queen is found murdered in a small New England town, and her sister’s search for answers unearths more than she bargained for.
Days after a young pageant queen named Jenny is found murdered, her small town grieves the loss alongside her picture-perfect parents. At first glance, Jenny’s tragic death appears clear-cut for investigators. The most obvious suspect is one of her fans, an older man who may have gotten too close for comfort. But Jenny’s half-sister, Virginia—the sarcastic black sheep of the family—isn’t so sure of his guilt and takes matters into her own hands to find the killer.
But for Jenny’s case and Virginia’s investigation, there’s more to the story. Virginia, still living in town and haunted by her own troubled teenage years, suspects that a similar darkness lay beneath the sparkling veneer of Jenny’s life. Alternating between Jenny’s final days and Virginia’s determined search for the truth, the sisters’ dual narratives follow a harrowing trail of suspects, with surprising turns that race toward a shocking finale.
Infused with dark humor and driven by two captivating young women, The Prized Girl tells a heartbreaking story of missed connections, a complicated family, and a town’s disturbing secrets.
Honestly, after a few chapters of The Prized Girl, I was sure I was going to hate this novel or at least give it a low rating. I didn’t like the narrator, Virginia, or the character of Jenny, the murdered girl, whose story is told in alternate chapters. However, as I continued reading, I was totally sucked into this story and even began empathizing with both characters, which just goes to show: never say never.
Virginia is not immediately likable. She’s stuck in a moment from her past and seems glued. She can’t go back. She can’t go forward. If you think about those not immediately likable women from The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, you have something of the substance of Virginia but not quite. Virginia has been manipulated and hurt and no one knows, so no one can help.
The immediate thing about Jenny is that she comes across older than her years, but she is a kid. She’s in 8th grade and has to deal with events that no one who has just entered her teens should have to deal with. She’s trying to gain control of her life, which unfortunately becomes her undoing.
As I step back from The Prized Girl, it’s obvious how many characters are living secret lives and how very true to real life that is. Vulnerable, seemingly strong, girls and women. Men who seem to be one thing and are another. Popular people who are victims.
Reading a suspense novel is always a guessing game and this one I strangely won but only later after one character suggested an alternative scenario. I had one of those: ah, moments.
I liked this book. I liked the strange and quirky turns. Ultimately I even liked the characters. That doesn’t happen often that I have these shifts so kudos to debut novelist Amy K. Green. I hope to read more in the future.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies