Just published this past week, I received THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS as an ARC through Net Galley last month. I really enjoyed this book, in part for the nostalgia I felt for the lazy summer childhood days of the 70’s that are so aptly depicted in this intriguing and sometimes disturbing story within a story.

As the novel starts, Sadie is an adult and trying to regroup after the losing her baby. She lives in the town where she grew up and where, twenty years earlier, two girls disappeared. One girl had been in Sadie’s class, and she was never found again. The other girl was a sometimes friend of Sadie, and she still harbors guilt for her disappearance. Through flashback, we learn of Sadies’ childhood in her dysfunctional family, with an alcoholic actress mother and often absent father. Sadie is somewhat of a ringleader amongst her friends, and they spend their days in complex imaginary dramas, dressing up in the basement or creating forts in the woods surrounding the Connecticut neighborhood (I loved this depiction of childhood before everyone became “plugged in”!). The lost girl, assumed abducted, hangs as a specter over them all. Then Sadie and her friend play a trick on another (unpopular) girl, and she goes missing, too.

Back in the present day, Sadie is just trying to get by when a man who was a childhood friend returns to the neighborhood, setting into motion a chain of events that bring the past and present together in a tumultuous crash.

I really enjoyed reading this book and couldn’t put it down! I wanted to know what would happen, would the mystery be solved, and what would become of Sadie. I can’t say I loved Sadie as a character, but I did feel sympathy for her. And I really liked the depiction of pre-adolescent Sadie. I enjoyed Ms. Brown’s writing and will look for her other works – which are short story collections.

Highly recommended as a summer read!

Thank you, Net Galley and Washington Square Press, for my copy!

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