Title: The Gosling Girl
Author: Jaqueline Roy
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 20th January 2022
Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again.
When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again.
Natalie Tyler is the officer brought in to investigate the murder. A black detective constable, she has been ostracised from her family and often feels she is in the wrong job. But when she meets Michelle, she feels a complicated need to protect her, whatever she might have done.
The concept of nature vs. nurture is one that I find endlessly interesting so I was instantly drawn to this book. The story follows Michelle Cameron, a young woman who, as a ten year old, killed a four year old girl. When we meet Michelle, she is technically free – though she is no longer able to use her real name and must attempt to come to terms with her new identity. However, after a friend of Michelle’s is murdered, she is brought into custody and questioned by the police, and her real identity is revealed. Police detective Natalie Tyler is given the job of managing the situation and soon begins to feel conflicted about the way she sees this notorious supposed ‘monster’.
The Gosling Girl is not an easy read. It is pretty bleak and often downright depressing at times but it is also surprisingly moving and incredibly thought provoking. Michelle is a complicated character. Her actions as a child make her an instant beacon for condemnation and hatred, however it is impossible (at least in my opinion ) not to feel a level of empathy for her as a human being. This is a woman who was written off as ‘evil’ before her eleventh birthday, some might argue for good reason, however there is so much else going on here. Michelle’s conviction and treatment by the so-called justice system lays bare the disturbing sway that race, class and perception holds. There is so much in this book that made me angry and broke my heart – not least because, whilst The Gosling Girl is fictional, there are plenty of real life examples of prejudice in the justice system both here in the UK and around the world. This is a sharp, incisively written and searingly powerful novel that, whilst not a cheerful read, is an eminently worthwhile one. Highly recommended.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
Buy the book: