- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (June 19, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0062108166
- Source: Publisher
After living a decade in New Zealand, twenty-eight year old Suki Piper returns to her native London. She struggles to reconnect with the London she knew ten years ago. It isn’t until she track down Peggy, a family friend still living in the building Suki grew up in, that she feels she has some sense of home. She quickly becomes part of Peggy’s dysfunctional family, serving as a grounding force for Peggy’s sixteen year old grandson.
The longer she remains in London the more memories come rushing back. Specifically, memories of the night of a party and what happened in an abandoned air-raid shelter. For reasons unknown to Suki, this shelter keeps reappearing in her dreams and memories. Who is the girl down below and how does she play a role in Suki’s life?
Told through a series of flashbacks and memories, The Girl Below is a story of one young woman’s quest for understanding about her childhood. Her father abandoned her family when she was young and, years later, her mother passed away, so Suki has never really felt like she has a sense of family and home. Always feeling displaced, she struggles to come to terms with the individual she has become and the instances in her past that have influenced this. Rather than dealing with these feelings, Suki often turned to drugs and a series of relationships, attempting to drown out the memories rather than dealing with them as she should. The turning point in Suki’s search is the point when she learns the truth of what happened one night, dispelling assumptions she’s held to be true all this time.
What makes this a truly compelling novel is the alternating time periods. The reader walks side-by-side with Suki as she takes this path of self-discovery, uncovering details of her past. While there are vague elements of the paranormal, I didn’t find this to be a particularly chilling read. That said, my scare meter is set pretty high so it does take a great deal to send chills down my spine.
Additionally, Suki is a completely fleshed-out and interesting character. While she’s close to thirty in age, her maturity level is that of a teen, in my mind. This can be largely attributed to the issues she experienced in her home as a youth, perhaps preventing her from maturing psychologically as she should have.
Ultimately, The Girl Below is a novel that steps out of the boundaries of “typical” contemporary fiction, adding elements of mystery and the paranormal to entice and gain the interest of readers. Zander is a fresh new voice in fiction! I look forward to reading more of her work! Highly recommended.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours fro providing me the opportunity to review this title. Please be sure to check out the other stops in this tour.