Title: The Girl Who Stayed by Tanya Anne Crosby
Publisher: The Story Plant
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Zoe Rutherford wasn’t sure what she was expecting when she returned to Sullivan’s Island. The house on Sullivan’s hadn’t represented home to her in decades. It was the place where she endured her father’s cruelty. It was the place where her mother closed herself off from the world. It was the place where her sister disappeared. But now that her parents are gone, Zoe needs to return to the house, to close it down and prepare it for sale. She intends to get this done as quickly as possible and get on with her life, even though that life seems clouded by her past, both distant and recent. But what she discovers when she gets there is far beyond her imagining and will change her in profound ways.
THE GIRL WHO STAYED is a remarkable exploration of the soul by a writer with a rare talent for reaching into the hearts of her characters and her readers, a novel of transformation that will leave you moved and breathless.
The Girl Who Stayed by Tanya Anne Crosby is a leisurely-paced emotional journey of healing.
Haunted by her younger sister’s still unsolved disappearance thirty years earlier, Zoe Rutherford left home at eighteen and never looked back. Now thirty-nine years old and finally free of an eight year abusive relationship, she returns to Sullivan’s Island to fix up the family home then put it up for sale. Unprepared for the onslaught of memories, Zoe cannot stop thinking about her childhood and the devastating loss of her eight year old sister Hannah.
Those long events shaped Zoe’s entire life and she has not been able to escape its lingering effects. Her childhood was far from idyllic and in the aftermath of Hannah’s disappearance, Zoe took the brunt of the blame. Her relationship with her father deteriorated after an unfounded accusation that Zoe was responsible for Hannah’s disappearance and she suffered both emotional and physical abuse in the years before leaving home. Traumatized by both the accusation and abuse, Zoe continues to remain stuck in the past.
Zoe is a desperately unhappy and tormented character. She is standoffish, emotionally distant and fiercely independent. Although professionally successful, she has low self-worth and she is full of self-loathing. Zoe is unsure if her memories are accurate and she is confused by her impressions of those long ago events. Despite her close relationship with her sister, she was also extremely jealous of Hannah and she cannot help but obsess over her bewildering feelings about her sister and her unsolved disappearance. In the midst of her attempts to come to terms with her unhappy childhood, Zoe is also striving to understand how she allowed herself become trapped in an abusive relationship for so long.
Zoe’s memories of the past are revealed through a series of flashbacks as she reminisces about key events from her childhood. Viewing these memories as an adult provides her with a different perspective of her parents’ reactions. With this new understanding, Zoe recognizes how profoundly her dysfunctional childhood motivated her decisions and choices once she reached adulthood. Hoping to break this destructive pattern, she begins making more of a concerted effort to repair her fractured relationship with her brother and his family. Zoe tries to be less distrustful of the new people in her life but will opening herself to new friendships lead her into danger?
With an eclectic cast of characters and a haunting yet realistic storyline, The Girl Who Stayed by Tanya Anne Crosby is a captivating novel of new beginnings. Beautifully rendered and quite atmospheric, this poignant yet ultimately uplifting story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.