I’ll just start by saying that I really enjoyed this book. Christopher Greyson has shown great promise in producing his series of “Jack” thrillers, all of which I’ve reviewed. But he’s knocked it out of the park with The Girl Who Lived, a stand-alone novel.
Faith Winter’s thirteenth birthday party turned into a life-altering nightmare. At her family’s vacation cabin, her father, her sister, her best friend, and the friend’s mother were slaughtered, and Faith barely escaped. She told the police the killer was a “rat-faced man” who chased her through the woods, but they don’t believe her. They call it a murder-suicide, and blame her father as the culprit.
Faith’s life spiraled into a maelstrom of dysfunction after that. She became an alcoholic and spent time in mental hospitals and prison. Now, ten years later, she is being released on parole, required to attend AA and survivors’ group meetings, and to look for a job.
She has no real interest in getting sober, or even in living. The only thing that’s keeping her alive is her dream of locating the rat-faced man. But she meets a female FBI agent who believes her story, and then she indeed sees the rat-faced man, briefly, on the streets of her home town. Also, someone is playing tricks on her, making her look crazy. Or is she crazy? Even paranoids sometimes have real enemies, after all.
She doesn’t know whom to trust. There’s no one in her world she doesn’t have some reason to suspect. Nevertheless, the last betrayal will surpass even her fantasies.
It might be a personal thing, but this story drew me in as few ever have. We get a close-up (and very harrowing) view of the world of sufferers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The cynicism that makes the best advice seem shallow – because it doesn’t apply to a problem like mine. The sense that, even if I was innocent when I was victimized, I’m not innocent anymore. The damage is done, and I’m not like other people.
The Girl Who Lived is a challenging, moving book that may be hard for some readers to handle. A Christian element is present, and it’s very welcome in the circumstances.