The Girl Before is one of those CostCo impulse purchases that you are excited about and then are let down by. I could have absolutely skipped it, but enjoyed overall. Turned out to be a 'good-not-great' read. I don't regret reading it but I regret buying it and could have borrowed it from a library if at all.
- The Girl Before (JP Delaney)
- 352 pages
- Ballantine Books
- ISBN-10: 0425285049
- ISBN-13: 978-0425285046
If you already know the plot, skip to 'The Gimmick' below for additional thoughts.
JP Delaney's story revolves around a couple of women (not girls) who both lived in the same apartment. Their worlds are intertwined not just because of the rooms they ate and slept in, they also loved the same man.
Jane moves in after a horrible miscarriage rips her world apart. Emma, the prior renter, arrived after a burglary makes puts her on edge and forces her to evaluate her living arrangements.
The apartment at One Folgate St is not a normal apartment. Owned and designed by handsome eccentric Edward Monkford, Folgate is a minimalist smart home. It has 200 rules in the lease contract that deny you the right to have clutter or leave dirty dishes on the sink among other rules. It asks you questions to validate your synchronicity with the mindset the property requires.
Jane finds that the owner is not much different. He is exacting, precise, formal, expensive, and exactly what she needs to move forward with life post personal tragedy. He is an uncomplicated distraction. Edward had also dated Emma, and they broke up just before Emma died inside his minimalist apartment.
At first, this was fun conceptually but became a nusiance within the first 10 chapters. The chapters alternate between Emma in the past and Jane in the present. Readers are provided snippets of information which intertwine the characters pretty well, but after the first half of the book it becomes tedious.
Right at the halfway point, I set this book down for a week or so, read a different book and made a new bookmark to distract myself a little. I was questioning if I should bother finishing the book at all. I did, and only a chapter or two later It picked up a little and I was reinvested.
However, the zipper tooth chapter gimmick makes both sets of characters diluted and really does take away from the story. I would actually suggest new readers bypass this and read every Emma chapter first, then every Jane chapter. I feel like this would remove some of the suspense but would speed up the story and give it a bit more emotional punch.
I wish I had done this.
Source: This book was purchased through Costco, who has absolutely no regard for my household budget. They place before me reasonably priced novels on a table that stretches the length of a warehouse. I pick them up then wander the store justifying the spend in my head. Thanks a lot assholes. Sorry. I meant 'See you soon Masters'.