Book Review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

“One of the curious aspects of a traumatic experience like the one you’ve been through, is how it sometimes results in a softening of your existing boundaries. Sometimes the changes are temporary. But sometimes the person finds they actually quite like this new aspect of their personality, and it becomes a part of them.”

― J.P. Delaney, The Girl Before

JP Delaney's book The Girl Before was published in 2016. The thriller is recounted from the perspectives of two women, Emma and Jane. An intriguing psychological thriller that weaves one woman's seeming luck and another woman's unfathomable fate through a kaleidoscope of deceit, murder, and dishonesty.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

"Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life."

The request seems odd, even intrusive - and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.


Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant - and it does.


After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street, she is instantly drawn to the space - and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home's previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror as the girl before.

My reaction to this novel...

Two different characters' voices are used to tell this narrative in alternate chapters. Jane and Emma reside in a house created by an eccentric architect at various points in time. I was astounded to read how technology had infiltrated people's minds when I read about the house because this was something that was explicitly depicted in the book. Although the architect in this story has established restrictions for the people who were selected to live there, I can't help but be struck by how aristocratic that house is. If I'm searching for a home that will make me feel safe and also has high-tech amenities at a reasonable price, I might even submit an application as a tenant.

Anyway, The Girl Before, has its merits and great storyline. It effectively exposed me to a segment of society; it was almost like going to a gallery. I adore novels with straightforward narrative language that isn't excessively specific about how many ceiling holes there are, etc. I also enjoy changing narrative viewpoints. Because of this, the impacts of the narrative twist are less obvious and more satisfying. I was interested in it all the way through. It also left me feeling torn about the characters. Being uncertain of the author's intended direction made it a major page-turner for me. There's no denying that it has a creepy quality in the story of this novel. Even I felt nervous over the narrative's pace.

Regarding the characters, I especially favored Jane. She had experienced a lot before relocating to the new residence, and that made me feel bad for her. In fact, there have been moments when I had to put it down while I was reading about what had happened to her because I was so sorry for her. In addition, because I worked as an OB-GYN nurse and had patients who had stillbirths, I was familiar with the agony and grief experienced by those moms. As a result, I was very sad and heartbroken for her. Emma, on the other hand, embodies the total antithesis of Jane's attitude. She is such a liar and a complete nutjob that, in terms of her mental state, she definitely needs medical attention. I truly don't like her, and something in me makes me believe that she is to blame for what occurred to her. I find her to be utterly horrible.

If you're searching for a fictitious read that's edgy and keeps you guessing, this is the book for you. You might read this book straight through and enjoy a finely structured thriller that twists and turns its way to the conclusion, or you can spend a lot of time reflecting on the various themes and layers the author has disclosed, as well as the most fundamental and admirable features of human existence. You'll be in the dark during this psychological thriller.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨(4.5/5)

“One of the strange things about grief is the way it ambushes you when you least expect it.”

Sometimes it is pretty unbelievable that the pain of the past would be brought up again just when we believe we are completely okay and have moved on. Even if we believe the pain has lessened or been healed by time, we will still experience the same amount of pain that we felt before. 


Disclaimer: Booksreadbyhannel is not a business website. The opinions expressed here are unbiased and based only on my own feelings and reactions while reading the books I featured here in my blog. My reviews reflect my utmost sincerity. I paid for the books I review here out of my own pocket. Books provided by authors and publishers are otherwise specified.