THE ROANOKE GIRLS is a story about all the girls born and raised at the Roanoke Farm. Yates Roanoke loved his life and his farm in a sleepy, hot part of Kansas. He loved his oil wealth and his wife and her crazy designed house. Yates loved his two sisters and his three daughters and his two granddaughters. He made them all feel special and well loved and made nearly every wish come true for them. Most of the Roanoke Girls do not want to stay at the Farm – some runaway, several die and the story begins with a suicide.
Lane and her mother have been living in New York City. Mom is one of the runaways from the farm and she has been struggling to have enough funds to support them but chronic depression has overcome her and now Lane at fifteen has been left on her own after the suicide. The social worker finds that her Kansas Grandparents are delighted to have her come home and have already sent a bus ticket.
Allegra, who was born at Roanoke Farm and has resided there all her life is excited to meet Lane and welcomes having someone her age. The girls explore small town life and the high school year as they discover the family tree and the reality of being a Roanoke Girl. There are boyfriends and a swimming hole and some odd characters in the story. The girls are treated to pets, and horses and clothing, along with cars as they learn to drive. The partial year that Lane stays at the farm is still mysterious and interesting and the weather is hot.
The story shifts to 11 years later and Grandfather is calling Lane because Allegra has gone missing. Lane ran away without finishing high school and after making a dark discovery. She has had a rough time finding work but has been able to get a GED and for a very short time was married to an older man, an arrangement that did not work out. She is struggling and her Grandparents need her home to assist them in locating Allegra. She leaves LA and heads to Roanoke and Kansas to help find her cousin. The mystery begins to unravel and with a great deal of effort Lane does find Allegra and solves the final needed clues to freeing her towards living her own life and making her own way into the world.
TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of THE ROANOKE GIRLS for review and it is a well-written story with a difficult premise. There is an element of coming of age, but more about family secrets that maybe well hidden in isolation –remoteness. I could truly understand this story-taking place in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, or Oklahoma – many times over. I do believe one must leave Kansas to understand the greater world and that small thinking is inbred and tenacious. Physical abuse is easy to understand and the toughness of character. THE ROANOKE GIRLS stays with the reader.
“This is a poised and haunting novel, whose enchanting prose belies its dark and intense subject matter. An evocative modern take on Southern Gothic, with a compelling twist which will remain with you long after the book’s last sentence.” – L.S. Hilton, New York Times bestselling author of Maestra
“AMY ENGEL is the author of the YA novels The Book of Ivy and The Revolution of Ivy. She lives in Missouri with her family. This is her first novel for adults. “ (Book Cover)