“Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s temper. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. As events spiral out of control they find themselves in a horrifying situation and are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.
Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer. But when one of the sisters goes missing, followed closely by her niece, they are pulled back into the past. And this time there’s nowhere left to run.”
Thoughts on the Novel: Those Girls is a tough read. Ms. Stevens pulls no punches when describing what the girls experience at the hands of their father and later at the hands of the two boys who “help” them. It is enough to make even the least-sensitive reader wince in sympathy. However, without such detail, the book would not be half as powerful as it is. What Ms. Stevens does best in all of her novels, and especially with her latest, is to show the darkest aspects of humanity and the resilience women have when experiencing such darkness. One cannot do that without the meticulous imagery that shows the girls’ journey, no matter how difficult it is to read those scenes.
Another element of Those Girls which is so powerful is the emotional connection readers will have for each of the girls. Each girl is so very different, handling their individual and collective traumas in different manners, but readers will connect with them all as they seek to make a life for themselves and put the past as far behind them as possible. In many ways, readers are right next to the girls, experiencing what they experience at all times. Their fear is the readers’ fear. Their anger is the readers’ anger. The emotions at play throughout the novel are impossible to ignore, and readers will feel them all.
Those Girls is an intense and surprisingly personal novel. Readers will find themselves emotionally invested in the story and audibly voicing their fears and concerns to the room at large while reading. Not only that, but it holds up a mirror in front of each reader, forcing them to reflect on their own survival instincts and determination to right a wrong. For it is as much a novel of survival as it is revenge as the girls struggle with the past’s impact on the next generation. Ms. Stevens’ novels are always thrilling and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. Given the power of the emotions and the no-holds-barred scenes of violence, Those Girls ups the ante in thrillers and makes it a must-read for the summer.