Title: Girl Detached
Author: Manuela Salvi
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
UK Release Date: 15th September 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Aleksandra has issues with her voice. Stress makes her stutter, and her life is one of stress. She can only speak clearly on stage, freed by the words of the character she plays. Then, when Aleksandra befriends her new neighbour Megan, and through her meets charming, handsome Ruben, it seems she has discovered a doorway into a different world, and a different Alek. But Ruben wants Aleksandra to play a particular role for him, and it is one that will come close to destroying her.
So I actually read Girl Detached three months ago, back at the beginning of September. However, it has taken me since then to get around to writing a review – not because I didn’t like it; the case was rather the opposite. I think this book is one that should be read by many (I said that it was the last truly great book I read when I did the New York Times By the Book tag), and I simply had no idea how I was going to convey just how powerful this book is in a review, so I put off writing it. I’m going to go for it now, so I hope this review ends up as being somewhat coherent, and manages to impress upon you how truly great this book is.
I’m going to start with the obvious thing to comment on, which is the main theme of the book. While the blurb hints at what it is, there is no open statement, so I don’t want to say too much (although I do mention it below as a warning), as I thought a really striking part of the book was the way nothing was given away at first, and you got a slow build-up along with Aleksandra. Some readers might pick up on what was going on straight away, but personally I didn’t, and that meant I only discovered the shocking truth at the same time as Aleksandra.
I will, however, say that you should approach the book with caution if you find the topic of sexual abuse and rape triggering (also if you are a younger or more sensitive reader who may find the content distressing). Manuela Salvi’s writing has been compared to that of Louise O’Neill, and I completely agree with this, particularly in the way that both books are so harrowing and brutally honest. It is incredible to read as it is so raw in the way it is told, and exposes a part of the world I knew very little about before, but an effect of this is that there is some content matter which may need to be approached with caution for some.
I also thought the character arcs were so interesting. Aleksandra, I thought, was an utterly believable character, and it was heartbreaking to see how the fact that she was nice meant people who she thought were her friends took advantage of her. I also liked Jonah’s transformation – I did find it a tad surprising, as his personality seemed to change a lot between the beginning and the end. However, this may have also been more down to Aleksandra’s perception of him as opposed to how he actually was.
Overall, all I really have to say is that I hope this review was enough to convince you that what you really should be doing is reading Girl Detached – it is an incredibly powerful and hard-hitting novel, and I honestly cannot emphasise enough how important I think this book is.