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Review: Girls of No Return

The Girls of  No Return 
By Erin Saldin
Will be published: 2/1/12
From goodreads:  CUT meets HATCHET in this lacerating debut about girls, knives, and redemption.

The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area stretches across two million acres in northern Idaho. In its heart sits the Alice Marshall School, where fifty teenage girls come to escape their histories and themselves.

Lida Wallace has tried to negate herself in every way possible. At Alice Marshall, she meets Elsa Boone, a fierce native Idahoan; Jules, who seems too healthy to belong at the school; and Gia Longchamps, whose glamour entrances the entire camp. As the girls prepare for a wilderness trek, Lida is both thrilled and terrified to be chosen as Gia's friend. But everyone has their secrets--their "Things" they try to protect; and when those come out, the knives do as well.

   This is a story of obsession and about finding out who you are and where you are going. Lida is having a hard time. She is sent to this wilderness school partly as a punishment, and partly to escape the life she is living. I found Lida to be very believable, and while I did not have much in common with her I sat back and read her story with a sense of understanding.  
   The big picture here is that Lida is unsure of who she is and where she fits in.She begins to obsess over her relationship with Gia. This is a girl-crush, and I did not find it sexual or romantic, but confused and painful-and that is the point. Lida is unsure of what she wants. 
I worry that the description leads the reader to believe this is an adventure novel. It is not. It is about survival, but it is more psychological than physical. 
   I am also left with the sense of not knowing who to recommend it too. It's rather literary. It is not an easy or fast read, but it is an important one. I think my adult fiction friends may enjoy it more than my Teen Book Club members. There are no happy endings here (because there could not be, the school is just a stop gap in the path of life). The entire novel is also written flashback style and some of the heavy foreshadowing got on my nerves-a touch. It is also real and gritty. 
    Overall, a good read that needs some time to be read slowly.


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