Book review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke

Does anyone else find it just a little bit annoying how Zoella manages to get everything so right?! So far, I think her book club this year is the best one yet, the girl can do no wrong. Cat Clarke’s Girlhood was chosen for the Zoella and Friends Book Club 2017 by Juno Dawson, who, as a direct result, shall henceforth be known as the Goddess of Recommending Reading (as well as an awesome author in her own right, of course). Ignore her at your peril.

New girl Kirsty joins Harper’s boarding school and Harper feels she has finally found someone who understands her and her past. Their friendship quickly becomes pretty intense, causing friction between Harper and her long-term three best friends. When those friends decide not to share some important news with her, Harper feels that Kirsty is the only one she can share her secrets with. But can Kirsty be trusted? And what secrets is she hiding?

Right from the off, I was completely hooked. Cat Clarke creates a sense of suspense that had me unable to put the book down until I had found out more about both Harper’s past and present. The sense of desperation increases with each passing chapter and nugget of drip-fed information; I actually declined to sit down for dinner so that I could “just find out what happened to Harper’s sister.” When I did, my heart broke for Harper and her family, and I had to “just find out how they dealt with things.”

The suspense grows as the book goes on; the feeling that there is something not quite right about Kirsty niggled at the back of my brain as I waited nervously for the inevitable impending doom. I imagined much worse than Clarke actually writes, making the ending almost anti-climactic (although probably more realistic than the overly-dramatic scenarios I was playing out!).

So the plot and style reeled me in, but it’s the characters that make Girlhood so special for me. For each of the primary characters, I could name a girl that I went to school with that had the same foibles and would react in the same way to the same situations using the same dialogue (except with slightly different slang because I was at school way back in the 90’s!). It’s this accuracy that means the book has had such a big impact on me, and has had me questioning what I would have done in Harper’s situation.

I’m still not sure what the answer to that question is, but I do know that I wish I’d had friends like Harper’s at school; the girls’ friendship really is the light at the end of the narrative tale here, making the reader feel hope for the future.

So you if you like gripping suspense stories about creepy friendships based in Scottish boarding schools, then this is the book for you!

Seriously though, you should read this. Sometime when you have no plans for a couple of days.

Or when your plans are less important than reading a book without interruption.

So…any time.

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