Finished February 19
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
This novel begins with the death by suicide of Lane's mother. Lane knew her mother Camilla grew up in Kansas in a big house, but she also knows her mother ran away from that life, calling it a nightmare. Lane has never felt close to her mother, nor felt loved. As Lane is still a few weeks away from her 16th birthday, the social worker assigned to her case has looked for relatives and found grandparents who are eager to take her in.
Lane travels to Kansas, to find a house that seems like a mishmash of pieces of architecture tacked together. Her younger cousin, Allegra is waiting on the porch for her. Her grandmother is distant but friendly, and her grandfather is warm and eager for her to feel welcome.
As she adjust to life in rural Kansas, Allegra introduces her to other young people, and Lane begins to feel at home. From the nearby swimming hold, to the town park with a real carousel, Lane finds spots she loves. She gets to know Allegra's boyfriend and finds a local boy that she connects with. Lane also finds herself more curious about the family she finds herself a part of. Why have all the women in the family besides her grandmother and Allegra ran away or died? What was it her mother ran from? There are some feelings she gets that just don't make sense on the surface of things. When she discovers the family secret, she is horrified. She too runs away, as far as she can.
Years later, she gets a phone call from her grandfather. Allegra is missing, can she come home. She has had contact with Allegra over the years, but not a lot as she wants to forget that summer of her life. Yet she feels a responsibility to Allegra, and returns to the Roanoke house.
The police have been following what trails they can, but Lane knows Allegra better than almost anyone, and she knows her secret. Can she find out what really happened to her, and what will she do if her fears are confirmed?
This suspense novel is one of an extremely dysfunctional family, headed by a narcissist. Families have so many secrets, and others only see what they want to sometimes. This is a book that raises difficult subjects, and is disturbing. But it is a book hard to put down, as you begin to care about Lane and what happens to her.