Review: “The Girl Who Lived,” Christopher Greyson

Pros: Fascinating and disturbing setup
Cons: Faith is very self-sabotaging
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

In Christopher Greyson’s The Girl Who Lived, Faith has been in and out of mental institutions ever since most of her family was killed. Her father supposedly stabbed her sister Kim, her best friend Anna, and Anna’s mother before shooting himself. Only Faith was there–and she saw someone else do the killing. No one believes her, not the police, not her mother, and not Faith’s therapists. Faith finally gets out shortly before her 23rd birthday (which will be the day after the tenth anniversary of the killings). Her mother has set everything up for her–AA meetings and a sponsor, survivor’s group, therapy, an apartment, a used car, and some possible jobs. That sounds great, except that other than the killings themselves, her mother is the single toughest part of her life. Her mother wrote a book about Faith’s travails after the killings called “The Girl Who Lived,” leaving Faith’s troubled life an open book for everyone in her small town. And her mother has a very emotionally detached view of Faith. Even Faith’s new therapist has read the book and is in a practice with Faith’s mother, making it difficult to establish a relationship of trust when she didn’t get to choose what to divulge to him.

Faith immediately falls off the wagon with respect to alcohol, so the cops don’t believe her when she sees “Rat Face,” one of the two men she spotted at the cabin on the night of the murders. Her car gets stolen (only to be found a couple of streets away), her house gets broken into (with no apparent damage or theft), and she gets stalked through the halls of the school where she has her survivor’s group meeting (only no one else sees anyone). The cops and her mother get more and more skeptical as she gets more and more convinced she’s being stalked. And trying to track down Rat Face only puts a target on her chest.

Faith is very self-sabotaging. It’s entirely understandable, but it still gets a bit frustrating now and then. I kind of wanted to grab her by the shoulders and give her a shake a couple of times. In some ways that’s probably a sign of a good character, but frustration isn’t really what I’m looking for when reading!

In this age of tell-alls, reality TV, and YouTube videos that chronicle our most intimate moments, it’s good to see an exploration of what the behind-the-scenes down-side can look like when it happens to someone.

SPOILER warning: I will say that it’s good we do eventually get a reason for why the serial killer feels the need to play with Faith instead of just offing her. It’s something more than just oh, he’s crazy. End spoilers.

I enjoyed this serial-killer thriller, and even shed a few tears near the end. I’d be happy to read more by this author.

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