A Girl Named Anna by Lizzy Barber (Review by Trina Griep)

2 min read

Suspense and thriller books are not my thing – I tend to find the genre predictable. A Girl Named Anna, the breakout book by Lizzy Barber was no different. However, I did find the structure and content exciting. The book was taken as one story from two perspectives – Anna and Rosie’s. When Anna decides to disobey her Mamma and go to an amusement park for her 18th birthday, she starts to untangle something within herself that seemed to be suppressed for quite some time. She begins her struggle to understand what is happening to her.

Rosie, on the other hand, knows what is happening to her – however, her family doesn’t know what happened to her sister, Emily. The 15 year anniversary of Emily’s disappearance is coming up quickly and money is running out to continue the search. It’s a desperate time for the family and Rosie decides to take matters into her own hands, risking her own safety to solve the puzzle.

Both perspectives run parallel to one another, like pieces of the same DNA, connected tenuously yet never crossing paths. Different experiences of family life are outlined – Rosie’s family has been torn apart, ruminating over Emily’s disappearance while Anna has lived under her Mamma’s watchful eye, a strong focus on cleanliness and purity.

I enjoyed the sense of curiosity, investigative spirit and similarities to real-life cases. Both characters attempt to get answers at the cost of all else, with a sense of scheming in order to get to the truth, whatever it may be. The connection to The Lilies cult as part of the storyline reminded me of The Farm in Riverdale and some real-life kidnapping cases. Father Paul was an interesting character, with his level of control and “purity”. The way cult leaders manipulate people in pain to bring them into their way of living was incredibly well captured.

Overall, three stars out of five and the book left me hanging! What happened in the house?! Was Mamma still alive? What happened to Anna?

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