Published: January 20th 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Today I’m delighted to bring you my stop on the blog tour for this powerful, piercing and unsettling novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Simon & Schuster UK for the ARC.
‘A tour de force of engaged storytelling. With heart-wrenching pathos, The Gosling Girl delineates the bleak aftermath for all concerned when one child kills another’ Peter Kalu
Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again.
When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again.
“She wants to know more. She wants to know why. She wants to figure out if Michelle Cameron really is the monster she’s made out to be.”
Humans are the scariest of monsters. But are these monsters irredeemable? Should they be punished for one mistake, especially when that mistake was made when they were a child? These are some of the questions posed by The Gosling Girl, the gripping psychological thriller that tells the story of Michelle Cameron, a young woman fresh out of prison and trying to adjust to being free. It is a life Michelle has never really known because at just 10 years old she became the most infamous and hated child in the country after murdering four-year-old Kerry Gosling. And though she is out of prison, she will never really be free; forced to change her identity and living in fear of vigilantes discovering the truth and taking revenge into their own hands.
What. A. Book. Thought-provoking, poignant and totally riveting, this is a story that will linger long after you close it’s pages. The author explores uncomfortable and difficult themes such as the nature of evil, childhood crime, institutional racism and psychological imprisonment versus physical imprisonment, forcing us to feel some uncomfortable emotions. The characters are richly drawn and compelling, the plot multilayered and intricately woven, and the writing nuanced and evocative, creating a connection between Michelle and the reader. Jacqueline Roy is a powerful storyteller, her descriptions providing a sense of tension, unease, dread and desperation. There is so much pain, trauma and helplessness in these words that it cuts you like a knife and bleeds from the pages.
“She pictures the young woman who had sat opposite her on the sofa, unsure of herself, awkward, lacking communication skills. Traumatised, in all likelihood. She will take her under her wing, facilitate her in coming to terms with the terrible crime she committed and write about the process. Surely no one could object to that. “
This story is a piercing psychological portrait that goes deep inside Michelle’s psyche. When we meet her she is overwhelmed and terrified of everything, having never made her own decisions, worked a job or lived in her own place. She constantly lives in fear of being found out and doesn’t know if she can ever trust anyone. The author vividly portrays her sense of isolation and fear, how she feels adrift without a soul in the world who cares for her or she can turn to, even her mother having turned her back on her once she was convicted. I never expected that I would feel such sympathy and warmth towards a self-confessed child-killer, but the author enabled me to see beyond her abhorrent crime and look at Michelle as a real person, rather than one-dimensionally evil.
Like Michelle, the story gives up its secrets slowly, keeping the reader guessing at the truth of what happened the day of the murder and Michelle’s childhood; small clues dropped like crumbs that make us wonder if she is guilty and what might have led to her committing such a crime. But is there anything that could make us understand a child killing another child? Or is it always completely inexcusable, something only someone truly evil could do? By keeping the circumstances of what happened that day in the shadows and instead creating a bond between Michelle and the reader, the author allows us to see the grey areas that make this such a complex issue.
Darkly atmospheric, disquieting, tortured and heartfelt, I can’t recommend this highly enough. It is the perfect marriage of complex moral and social issues in a powerful and compelling psychological thriller that you’ll not be able to put down. Read it now!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Jacqueline Roy is a dual-heritage author, born in London to a black Jamaican father and white British mother. After a love of art and stories was passed down to her by her family, she became increasingly aware of the absence of black figures in the books she devoured, and this fuelled her desire to write. In her teenage years she spent time in a psychiatric hospital, where she wrote as much as possible to retain a sense of identity; her novel The Fat Lady Sings is inspired by this experience of institutionalisation and the treatment of black people with regards to mental illness. She rediscovered a love of learning in her thirties after undertaking a Bachelors in English, and a Masters in Postcolonial Literatures. She then became a lecturer in English, specialising in Black Literature and Culture and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she worked full time for many years, and was a tutor on The Manchester Writing School’s M.A. programme. She has written six books for children, and edited her late father’s novel No Black Sparrows, published posthumously. A second novel for adults will be published in 2022. She now lives in Manchester.
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Check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx