Mini Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls

The Roanoke GirlsGenre: Adult Fiction, Thriller
Date Published: March 14 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Pages: 288
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – BooktopiaHachette Australia

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Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

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** I recieved a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own **

Trigger warnings: Everything??? Abuse, pedophilia, incest, rape, sexual assault, suicide, miscarriage.

ALSO: Minor Spoilers Ahead [what I talk about is mentioned a few chapters in] and an overuse of reaction photos I stole from my sister. 


Strap in folks, we are in for a good old fashioned rant review today!!!!!!!!

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I was really excited when I heard about The Roanoke Girls. It was even on my Most Anticipated Reads for the first half of the year post. I LOVE dark thrillers. I really enjoy reading about difficult topics because I believe that’s the best way to gain empathy. It’s definitely not easy to find books that manage to handle the topics in a respectful way. I got lucky when I read Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott last year, but fortunately I did not have the same luck with The Roanoke Girls.

I had a feeling when I picked up this book that it was going to deal with sexual abuse, but I was not prepared for how awfully it would be handled. I understand that familiar sexual abuse/rape happens and if this was handled with more respect then it could have maybe been a much better book. Except to me the sexual abuse felt incredibly glorified and done for nothing but shock value. It was never even challenged on page until the very end of the book.

The only thing I thought was handled kind of decently was Lane’s emotional abuse. She was never physically or sexually abused and she struggled with a lot of things like not feeling like she was good enough to be chosen. I think society wants to ignore the darker side of being an abuse victim and this book did bring that to light a little.

ANYWAY, on top of the really awful representation of abuse/rape we also got things like this from a male character:

“Look, Sarah’s a nice woman, but if I had to wake up next to her every morning for the rest of my life, I’d blow my brains out.”

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I’m sorry, but: What the actual fuck??????? I honestly should have DNF’d at this point, but I’m a sucker for punishment.

This book had girl hate (Lane literally hated this girl because she was ‘plain’ and used make up and wanted to live her life drama free) and sooo. muuuuuuch. MISOGYNY. 

The characters weren’t even that memorable either??? I honestly forgot Lane’s name until I looked at the blurb. Allegra was somewhat interesting, but ehhh. With everything else going on it just wasn’t enough for me to appreciate how complex she was.

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On top of all that we also had some kind of weird unhealthy New Adult relationship going on with Lane and some dude. Like, not kidding about the unhealthy. She even thinks this at one point:

Or maybe it was my face he longed to punch.”

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Lord give me actual strength.

I totally get that some abuse victims think they deserve abusive partners, but this relationship is being portrayed as romantic and “teen lovers find their way back to each other”.

So positives? It was fast paced and it did keep me reading, but that’s about it. Literally the only reason I gave this 2 stars instead of 1 is because I HAD to see how it ended and I hate myself for it.

So yeah, I didn’t dislike this book because it was about a difficult subject. I disliked this book because it was handled incredibly insensitively. 




Have you read The Roanoke Girls or is it on your TBR?

I’d definitely be interested in hearing your thoughts!

I hope you’re all having a fantastic day.

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32 thoughts on “Mini Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

  1. Yiiiiiikes. I’ve seen nothing but positive reviews for this book so uh. Thanks for this. I got a copy from Blogging for Books that I have to review at some point so that should be fun. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’ve seen that it has A LOT of 4 and 5 star reviews praising it for how “dark” it is and :/ :/ :/ you can write about these kinds of topics without being completely insensitive. If you start feeling too uncomfortable reading it, don’t push yourself. I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts though especially because of your psychology knowledge!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. More and more I’m realizing how few reviewers I can actually trust lmao So many people just either don’t recognize problematic stuff (which I can understand since I certainly don’t notice everything in the books I read, but it’s still disappointing) or don’t care as long as it entertains them.


  2. Oh I’m so disappointed in this book. It was also one of my most anticipated releases this year but I’ve heard such mixed things about it that I’m not sure I even want to try it now. I might just give this one a miss. Great review though ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeeeeees, the rant-y review! I have to be honest, I laughed out loud a couple of times while reading this. I was actually interested in this book, now I think I’ll just skip it. “Maybe it was my face he longed to punch”? I’m out of here 😀


  4. I’ve got this to read so only scanned your review but wow! on the rating as I’d been hearing such good things. I have book marked this so I can come back once I’ve read it to see if our thoughts are the same or different.


  5. I’m not going to lie I liked the book and sometimes for whatever reason, things escape me. In this case the way they portrayed the sexual abuse, looking back I do agree with you that it was glorified. It felt weird and off and I couldn’t place it until now, that I read your review. Especially in the way they girls felt “special” because of it, although that was probably imposed on them by the abuser, but still there was not much else that said that it was wrong. So, thank you for this review!


    1. I feel like I really would have liked it too if it was handled a little better? The girls all feeling special or whatever was one of the parts I did like because I think it was showing a part of abuse that doesn’t get portrayed much. I just also didn’t like the characters haha. I know lots of people did enjoy this book so I was a little worried about posting this because I didn’t want people to think I was attacking them (instead of the book), so thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It was on my tbr! But I don’t think I’ll be reading it now.
    I hate it when books just include rape and abuse for shock value- not only is it disrespectful but it also normalizes it and makes it seem less traumatizing than it actually is.
    Awesome review😃


  7. Oh sheesh. I remember you saying something about this one being just too messed up. I’m sorry you had to go through it! I wanted to read this but now…i don’t know so much. Thanks for the review!


    1. Thanks, Molly! Yeah, it’s such a shame because if it was handled better I think it could have been really good?? I did feel really uncomfortable at times reading it, but I wasn’t too bad. Mostly just worried about other people who might be hurt by it! I was tempted to stop reading, but I really wanted to get through it so I could inform people of everything that was going on with it!!


  8. Ahh it’s such a shame that this book was so bad because the cover is stunning! And this is one of the few times I think reaction images are appropriate in reviews 😂


  9. Awesome review Lauren, can’t believe I missed it at first! 😁
    I rated it 2 stars as well and I only finished it for the same reason you did, because I had to see how it ended even though I hated it!
    I didn’t like Lane’s relationship and how it overshadowed the actual missing cousin mystery and my biggest problem was with how the abuse was handled like it was no big deal. Like people come on! The guy has molested everyone and you didn’t say anything ever?!
    I could rant for days about this book, ugh!


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