Blogger’s note: Once again, it’s been too long since I’ve updated! My reviewing skills are a bit rusty, so bear with me as I attempt to rejoin the book blogging realm.
“An Anonymous Girl” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
384 pages, St. Martin’s Press
Expected publication date: Jan. 8, 2019
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. 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. 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.
Jessica Farris is a young makeup artist, struggling in her relationships and finances. When she learns about a morality and ethics study that includes generous pay, she underhandedly joins. After all, she could use some extra cash to help her parents and disabled sister.
But Jessica gets a lot more than she bargained for as psychologist Dr. Lydia Shields probes into her life and sends her on assignments that grow increasingly bizarre and dangerous. Before long, Jessica is caught in a web of deception that threatens more lives and reputations than just her own.
After reading a lot of mediocre and sometimes terrible books this year, “An Anonymous Girl” was a breath of fresh air. It had the potential to be just another easily forgettable chick-lit suspense novel, but it surprised me at every turn. It’s not full of vicious and emotional outbursts like I find in so many titles from the genre; instead, it’s packed with tension and drama that builds until the shocking conclusion.
Mostly brief chapters are narrated from the alternating perspectives of Jess and Dr. Shields. Fans of the show “Cheers” and its spin-off, “Frasier,” will know what I mean when I say that Dr. Shields’ clinical, cold demeanor reminds me of Dr. Lilith Sternin-Crane. And Shields never breaks character. Even when she expresses compassion toward Jess, she is downright creepy.
Jess is frustrating. The whole premise of the book is that she is too trusting for her own good. She seems to possess keen instincts about who she can and can’t trust, but she ignores them anyway. To be fair, though, as the book neared its end I wasn’t sure who was to be trusted, either.
That brings me to Thomas, one of the key characters in the book. Without giving too much away, the relationship between Dr. Shields and her unfaithful husband was crafted in such a way as to have me changing my mind about them practically page by page. If you’re looking for a cat-and-mouse tale, look no further. Jess, Thomas, and Dr. Shields definitely go out of their way to keep each other — and the reader — guessing about their intentions.
“An Anonymous Girl” is not just another female-centric suspense novel with the word “girl” in the title. It’s a cleverly conceived tale of how our morals and ethics define us.
I received an advance copy of “An Anonymous Girl” from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the authors
Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen are the co-authors of the blockbuster New York Times bestseller, THE WIFE BETWEEN US, as well as the forthcoming, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL. AN ANONYMOUS GIRL has been optioned for a television series by eOne, with Sarah and Greer executive producing. THE WIFE BETWEEN US has been optioned for film by Amblin Entertainment, with Sarah and Greer screenwriting the adaptation.