Book: Girl, Unframed
Genre: YA thriller/contemporary/coming of age
Rating: 5/5 Stars
So, I started this book with very little knowledge about it and only knew that it was a “thriller style” book similar to something Karen McManus would write. This sounded interesting to me, so when my library hold on the audiobook came through I gave it a listen. I wanted to break this book down a little more because I feel like it needs more attention.
First off, here’s the goodreads synopsis:
A teen girl’s summer with her mother turns sinister in this thriller about the dangers of unwanted attention.
Sydney Reilly has a bad feeling about going home to San Francisco before she even gets on the plane. How could she not? Her mother is Lila Shore—the Lila Shore—a film star who prizes her beauty and male attention above all else…certainly above her daughter.
But Sydney’s worries multiply when she discovers that Lila is involved with the dangerous Jake, an art dealer with shady connections. Jake loves all beautiful objects, and Syndey can feel his eyes on her whenever he’s around. And he’s not the only one. Sydney is starting to attract attention—good and bad—wherever she goes: from sweet, handsome Nicco Ricci, from the unsettling construction worker next door, and even from Lila. Behaviors that once seemed like misunderstandings begin to feel like threats as the summer grows longer and hotter.
It’s unnerving, how beauty is complicated, and objects have histories, and you can be looked at without ever being seen. But real danger, crimes of passion, the kind of stuff where someone gets killed—it only mostly happens in the movies, Sydney is sure. Until the night something life-changing happens on the stairs that lead to the beach. A thrilling night that goes suddenly very wrong. When loyalties are called into question. And when Sydney learns a terrible truth: beautiful objects can break.
Okay, so there’s the synopsis and my initial thoughts, so now we’re going to get a bit more spoiler-y with with next part. I want to break down my thoughts on the book and how it was set up. First off, this was a solid 5 star read for me. It is definitely not going to be everybody’s favorite book, but it’s one of mine.
First off, I adored the story telling of this book. It’s told in a way that the narrator breaks that 3rd wall (AKA–the Ferris Bueller). The story revolves around and is told in Sydney’s perspective, but a few times she addresses the audience straight on. The first time this happened it caught me off guard, but by the 2nd time I was looking forward to these little asides. The added another level to the story, because they put the reader in the spot where they don’t really understand why they’re happening or what they’re about. I loved them and they kept me guessing at their meaning.
Another reason this was a great read for me was the very real issues that Sydney faces. She is dealing with divorced parents, her mother’s boyfriend, friends that don’t fully understand her and her first real love. All of these things combined make for a character dealing with things that I see students deal with every day. Watching (reading) the stress and anxiety she has to deal with felt very real. I should mention if you have any past trauma or issues with verbally abusive people in your life, this book does have that. This is very real and so it could be an issue for someone dealing with that kind of trauma. Overall though, I feel like the author dives into these topics in a real and relatable way.
Finally, I LOVED the way the author handled the issue of how women are treated for their bodies. She dives into the comments people make, the way they treat you and even gestures made in your direction. Sydney struggles the whole book with her image as a 16 year old young woman and how she is treated by men from her own age to double her age. She struggles with what to wear and how to act around them and this was so incredibly relatable to me. The author dives into (through Sydney) things that you might feel comfortable in but a “father figure” might call slutty or say it “shows too much.” This was a theme through the whole book and I greatly admired that.
You might be reading this and thinking, okay, so where does the thriller portion of this come in? Throughout the book there are hints that something is not quite right. Sydney starts the book by talking about this feeling of something being off and the last few chapters reveal this. It’s not as intense of a YA thriller as a few others out there, but it does have these themes throughout.
If you decide to pick this one up, awesome! I highly recommend the audiobook. It was done really well and the voice actor is amazing.