Girlhood Review

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

By: Cat Clarke
Rating: 5/5
Source: W H Smith bundle

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.

I actually haven't read any other Cat Clarke books (late to the party I know) but I'll definitely be picking up some after this because Girlhood was AMAZING. I knew I would love it when I found out it was about a boarding school, it's a sub-genre of middle grade that I used to read a lot when I was younger, so this was just bringing back all those feelings. 

Harper has lost her sister to anorexia and her way of coping with the loss is to send herself to an all-girl boarding school in Scotland for a fresh start. It's a solid idea and all is going well for Harper, she has a new group of friends who are really incredible and everything is going to plan, until a new girl* called Kirsty shows up. Did I mention that this book is a thriller? 

*side note - I'm sure a lot of reviews comment on the initiation of new students at this school, but I'm going to express my horror too. As a girl I know we can be horrid to one another but I can categorically say that I would have no part in what the girls at this school do to initiate newbies into their ranks. If things like this still happen then no child of mine is ever going to a boarding school.

Kirsty has also lost a sister, and like Harper she doesn't come from a rich family. These similarities bring the two girls closer together and this changes the dynamic of the friendship group somewhat. It becomes obvious that the closeness between the two girls is something that Kirsty wants to preserve, she doesn't want anyone coming between them and she starts getting a little too intense. 

Up until the point where Kirsty actions get more out of hand, Harper has been oblivious to what's going on -as you would, not everyone would be suspicious of a new friend (I say not everyone because I'm always wary these days). I'm not going to spoil anything because especially with a thriller if you know what's coming it isn't going to affect you nearly as much. I will say that this book is very twisty and turny -hate that term but it's true.  

The book isn't all doom and gloom, though it is very emotional at times. The main message that I took from this story is how powerful friendship with your girlfriends can be, sorry boys you're great too. For better or worse, the friendship you make with your girls is something that can get you through just about anything. This is also another great pro-feminism book, Moxie put me on such a high at the beginning of the Zoella Book Club, I'm glad Girlhood brought that back around as we reach the end. 

On that note, I'd recommend this book to all you girls and women out there who need something to make you feel strong. Anyone who is a fan of YA thriller will love this book and Cat Clarke fans obviously you know her writing better than I do, but definitely give this a go if you haven't already. I'm taking recommendations for more of Cat's books so feel free to let me know about those.

Thanks for reading!

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