Before You Knew My NameBublitz, Jacqueline
With the Big Apple beckoning, eighteen-year-old Alice Lee sees no future in small-town Wisconsin, especially with the recent loss of her mother. With very little to her name, Alice sets forth, only to meet her demise.
When Ruby Jones, recently arrived from Melbourne and ready to embrace a new start stateside, finds Alice's body by the Hudson River, she feels compelled to find out who the victim is and what happened to her.
Not only does this story tick all the boxes for a gripping crime novel, but Alice's clever posthumous narration and an emphasis on the humanity of the victim offers a thoughtful feminist exploration of how the world views young women.
Unfortunately not many readers of this book - the subject too hard to read for parents of girls. We knew the outcome so couldn't be invested in a story where there is no hope. One of our eleven however, thought it was a brilliant book - giving a voice to the victim of a crime...
All except one ( because of a bereavement) enjoyed the book and thought it was well-written, in a very unique style. Portrayed the minds of other people with well constructed insights and lyrical prose.
The group generally really enjoyed this book though some found it difficult to get into. There was much discussion on a wide range of concepts arising from the book e.g. fascination with violence against women and in particular young white girls (white girl syndrome), how such interest can quickly move from one victim to the next, how a victim's private life becomes "broadcast to the world" (with reference to NZ cases) etc.
Everyone enjoyed the book and scored it 4.
We all thought the book was well-written. A thrilling whodunnit but so much more. Giving women a voice when normally other people speak for the dead, and dig around in their remains for a story that fits everyone's thinking of what the dead girl must have been.
Most enjoyed the book. Some felt it was bit long and contrived. Maybe written by someone who just took a creative writing course.
Unexpectedly enjoyable, given the subject/theme. Very well-written, doesn't seem like a debut novel. Both main characters we wanted to stay with; beautiful moments in the book e.g. the connection between Noah and Ruby at the end.
The group generally really enjoyed this book, although all found it difficult to get into. Very cleverly written. Characters interesting and believable. New York setting good, places relatable. Some of the discussion questions were frustrating and long. The group had a very lively evening discussing the many aspects of the book.
We enjoyed the book, a very easy read. The characters were believable and it was beautifully written. Difficult to read for a couple of women with teenage daughters. We had no empathy for Mr Jackson - we felt No.5 question was superfluous. The book notes were good and certainly got us talking about the fascination with women who go missing.
A very easy read, enjoyed the reading, beautifully written. Reminded us of 'The Lovely Bones', great to hear the victim's voice. The age old imbalance of power between men and vulnerable young women. All the men bar Noah, had the image of narcissism. Characters are believable.
All but one of our members really enjoyed this book. Although an easy read, we felt it had depth and gave insights into human nature and, in particular, relationships between male and female and the imbalance of power. Other themes of hope, bravery and sisterhood made for an interesting and thoughtful read. We all liked the viewpoint adopted - that of a 'dead' girl, while recognising it has been used before. The intrigue of who the perpetrator was, kept us involved, and wondering. Hints dropped in were never too obvious. Cleverly written by a Kiwi writer which adds to its appeal.
We all enjoyed this book and felt we would have loved to have explored some of the other characters like Noah, Lennie and Sue. An impressive debut novel, and great to read a Kiwi novelist. The subject matter was interesting and kept us engaged.
7/10 really enjoyed this book - found the format different but good. Lots of discussion re keeping safe, being cautious, living your life well, and of the anxiety, loneliness and sometimes fear young women live with. Thought that the writing was excellent - insightful and real. Highly recommend.