Thursday, 20 August 2020

Book Review: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn

The Girl She Was


Rebecca Freeborn

Publisher: Pantera Press
Publication date: 31st march 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 386
Format read: paperback
Source: Won
About the book
‘She’d long ago stopped wondering whether anyone would find out what she’d done. It was in the past, and Layla didn’t dwell on the past.’

Layla was just like any other teenager in the small town of Glasswater Bay: she studied hard, went out with her friends and worked at the local cafe after school. But when her attractive, married boss turned his attention on her, everything changed.

Twenty years later, Layla's living a quiet life in the suburbs with a loving husband and two children. She's finally left the truth of what happened behind. Until she receives a text message: I know what you did.

For years, she’s outrun her past, turning away from her friends and her home town. Now her past is about to catch up.
 My review

Layla is a 17 year old student. Shy  and awkward, she doesn't have a boyfriend, has never been kissed. Her closest friends, Shona and Renee are growing up much too fast. leaving her behind. When her boss starts to give her extra attention she is flattered and finds it hard to say no.

Layla at 37 lives in the suburbs, has a wonderful husband and two children. On the surface her life looks perfect but a  secret lies hidden deep within her and threatens to destroy the life she has.

The Girl She Was is a story of manipulation and suppression. Layla is seduced by her married boss and begins a life of deep shame, secret meetings and lies. A life that she can't get out of without losing everything.

The Girl She Was is a timely read in the current #MeToo era. Perfect for readers who found My Dark Vanessa a little too disturbing. It's still as equally relevant. However we know that Layla has moved-on on the surface if not deep down emotionally.

"Sometimes he was a little rough, but it was only because I turned him on so much."

"It wasn't his fault we were in this position."

"You're no good, Layla. You're depraved, like me. That's why we are so good together."

Scott's manipulation and gas-lighting is rife throughout the book and I read this with a rising anger and a heavy heart.

There is an underlying mystery throughout of how the relationship ended and how Layla lost her friends.

With themes of facing your past, manipulation, consent, power abuse, gas-lighting and self hate. There are also uplifting themes of forgiveness, hope, moving forward and female friendships making The Girl She Was a compelling read. 

5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Photo: Goodreads
Rebecca Freeborn lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills with a husband, three kids, a cat, a horse, more books than she can fit in her bookcase and an ever-diminishing wine collection.

She works as a communications and content editor for the South Australian Government where she screams into the void against passive voice and unnecessary capitalisation.

She writes before the sun comes up and thrives on unrealistic deadlines.

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge
and the Australian Women Writers challenge

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