AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel
Authors: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genres: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Page Count: 384 Pages
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
My Rating: 5 Stars
About the Authors: (From Publisher’s Page)
GREER HENDRICKS is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Wife Between Us. Prior to becoming a novelist, she spent two decades as an editor at Simon & Schuster. She obtained her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Allure, and Publishers Weekly. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
SARAH PEKKANEN is the international and USA Today bestselling author of eight previous solo novels and the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Wife Between Us. A former investigative journalist and award-winning feature writer, she has published work in The Washington Post, USA Today, and many others. She is the mother of three sons and lives just outside Washington, D.C.
Description of An Anonymous Girl: A Novel (From Publisher’s Page):
The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us
“Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.
When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.
Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?
But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding.
Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?
As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.
Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?
From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller, The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.”
Book reviews, like everything else in life, are subjective. Readers are as different as the number of books you find in a bookstore or library. I read many reviews of AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel and found an overwhelming majority of reviewers who had read Greer & Pekkanen’s first co-authored novel The Wife Between Us, typically rated their second co-authored book, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel, with a 2-3-star rating. However, the reviewers who had not read The Wife Between Us assessed AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel as a 4-5 star rating. I have not read Greer & Pekkanen’s first novel, and therefore I had no expectations or biases. The Publisher’s Page provides the following praise for Greer and Pekkanen’s first novel The Wife Between Us:
Praise for The Wife Between Us:
“A fiendishly smart cat-and-mouse thriller” —New York Times Book Review
“[A] seamless thriller that will keep readers on their toes to the very end…Readers will enjoy the dizzying back-and-forth as they attempt to figure out just who to root for and as the suspense ratchets up to one hell of a conclusion.” —Booklist
I am going to begin by saying the same will likely also be said for AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel. I typically lean towards reading more historical, biographical/memoir, and contemporary and classical fictitious books. It has been several years since I’ve read mystery, thrillers and psychological suspense books until I read AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel. I started reading AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel while on an Amtrak train in Chicago and finished the book before the train arrived in St. Paul/Indianapolis. I was pulled into the story from the first page and remained riveted throughout the book. I slowed down only when I came upon the initial alternate Point of View (POV) narration between the two main characters, Jess and Dr. Fields; however, once I realized the authors were writing using the alternate narration, I took off again, without any further hesitations.
I want to point out that this style of writing is uncommon because it is, as far as I am concerned, the most challenging form of narration to pull off. I have a feeling that many readers that reviewed AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel found themselves confused by the alternate narration style which resulted in their 2-3 star reviews. However, Hendricks and Pekkanen skillfully did what many writers will avoid because the alternating narration style is so difficult, but these co-authors did a superb job with their alternating narration style.
It’s not my intent to offend the reviewers who found the alternating narration style a sticking point. However, I also believe that many readers believe there are limited POVs in writing fiction. This is not the case, the POV possibilities are numerous. Most people are aware of the first person POV, the second person POV, and the third person limited POV; however, there is also a third person omniscient POV, and the alternating POV. But it doesn’t end there, there are three types of the third person POV; in other words, the various POVs used in writing are unlimited. Hendricks and Pekkanen should be lauded for their exceptional talent in pulling off the alternating narration POV as they did.
The character development was also phenomenal. There are as many if not more types of characters as there are POVs. We tend to think of characters as either the protagonist or antagonist, but the types of characters are vast. Some of the character types I noted in An ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel was the ‘dynamic/developing character’ or the ’round character.’ So while AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel does have the protagonist as well as the antagonist, the characters also had traits of other character types. The characters were not simplified just as the POV was not simplified. Hendricks and Pekkanen took their writing to a new level when they wrote AN ANONYMOUS GIRL: A Novel. They make a great team writing 5 Star novels. I recommend this book to ALL readers, regardless of preferred genre. And I absolutely recommend this book to published authors, as well as authors in the pre-publishing phase. As writers, we read not only for enjoyment, but to learn from other writers. Hendricks and Pekkanen are a team we can all learn from when it comes to improving our writing.
I am deliberately going to forgo addressing the story plot as the publisher has provided enough without me offering anything further and mistakenly revealing spoiler alerts. The novel is riveting and kept me attempting to think ahead of what I was reading, which proved futile. This is not a connect the dots novel; it’s a novel that gives nothing away. I hope that Greer and Pekkanen have plans for future novels. They make-up an impressive and talented writing team.
The following is a throw-in YouTube video of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen discussing their meeting and coming together to co-author The Wife Between Us.
Thank you to Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review AN ANONYMOUS GIRL.