Tanya Anne Crosby's The Girl Who Stayed is not her first novel. But it is the first thing I've read that she's written. Thanks, TLC Book Tours, for the opportunity to do so. I think I have a new author to add to my must-read list.
For some interesting timing, I finished reading this book on a train to the lowcountry. That's right, I am currently enjoying my very first stay in South Carolina, and writing this review way in advance because the book is fresh in my mind.
In fact, I am enjoying some time in the place Zoe grew up.
Zoe Rutheford is Crosby's primary character. And she's an interesting one, for sure.
She's back home to revamp the house she grew up in - on her own - because her brother won't help and there's nobody else left.
The first loss Zoe faced in her life was when her sister Hannah disappeared at a very young age. Hannah's disappearance has haunted Zoe her entire life.
It impacted her family, their future, how her parents lived, how her father treated her. All those things and more fly across the pages as Zoe's history unravels. Crosby does an incredible job at portraying the struggle of returning home, along with the pain of having left. Although at the time Zoe felt there was nothing to do but leave - and currently she has no plan to stay - she recognizes what she's left behind and what she's returned to.
She finds her family home, having been rented out over the years and abandoned by the management company, pretty much shredded. It's a garbage pit she needs to live in for the time being. She needs to make it livable. She gets to work, with the help of the police chief's son, Ethan. Their connection seems apparent to the reader from the start - but it's not your typical embraced spark. Zoe's got baggage, and a lot of it.
She's got an ex who she's left - finally - after way too long. She's avoiding his calls, his threats, his anger. She's carrying him with her, though. In the way her heart skips when she hears a car approach or someone at the door. In the way she decides to not delete all of his harassing voicemails, just in case. In that lengthy scar beneath the bill of the cap she constantly wears.
Zoe develops the strength to stand alone. She finds a way to keep going. She somehow connects with her elderly neighbor who has been avoiding her like the plague. Her brother and his wife and daughters come to see her after a scary incident. We're starting to grow with her and we like it.
But it changes. It flows differently. We worry about her. A lot. A little too much. She's taking risks. Taking chances. But I can't tell you more.
Sorry, friends. You'll have to order your copy on Amazon today. (affiliate link) on your own and figure it out from there. Trust me, you're going to enjoy this one. I promise.