Welcome to my review for The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy. The tagline intrigued me and I was keen to find out more so jumped at the chance when invited on this blog tour.
Book Review: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy
Title: The Gosling Girl
Author: Jacqueline Roy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Crime Fiction
Release Date: 20th Jan 2022
Monster. Murderer. Child. Victim.
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 Gosling Girl is a moving, powerful account of systemic, institutional and internalised racism, and of how the marginalised fight back. It delves into the psychological after-effects of a crime committed in childhood, exploring intersections between race and class as Michelle’s story is coopted and controlled by those around her. Jacqueline writes with a cool restraint and The Gosling Girl is a raw and powerful novel that will stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.
The premise of this novel drew me in but the character, Michelle kept me captivated. Naïve, institutionalised, and surprisingly likeable she is understandably conflicted with the knowledge that she’d killed a child, and battles with guilt but as the story progressed it was clear nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
At times, my heart tugged when she is filled with hope of a new start with a new name despite a conviction looming over her while other times, I dreaded turning the page because I wondered where it would lead. Getting to grips with living outside prison and dealing with people with their own agendas is not a smooth path.
Child murder by children is a difficult topic to tackle but it is done sensitively, and is helped by keeping the reader at a distance from the action and having Michelle as an unreliable narrator. There isn’t a graphic description of her crime which allowed for it not to overshadow the emotional aspects of the book. It gives a snapshot into the consequences of actions and highlights the trauma on all sides of the crime including the perpetrator. It investigates the effects of race and in some respects, money and class, on a case and how easy it is for facts to be manipulated to fit different narratives.
Tyler, a police detective has her own battles with prejudices on the force which is topical and relevant in recent events in the Met.
Would I recommend?
Yes, this novel is gripping, thought provoking, and is one that refuses to let you go once you’ve read the last page. It evokes many emotions including initial guilt for connecting and liking a convicted murderer. I’m sure when I watch events unfold on the news the voices of Michelle and Tyler will sneak their way into my thoughts and influence my own judgements; they will remind me no one ever knows the full story and there are many things at play in how events came about and how things are seen. It is ideal for book clubs and initiating discussions.
Jacqueline was born and raised in London. Her father was Jamaican and her mother was English and she comes from a family of writers. She hated the pressure to conform at school and left early, so she did her degrees as a mature student and moved to Manchester to take up a full-time teaching post at Manchester Metropolitan University. She lectured in English for many years, specialising in postcolonial literatures. She also taught creative writing at MMU’s Writing School. She is particularly interested in exploring racial identities and the ways in which those who are marginalised find strategies for fighting back. She is now a full-time writer and has produced fiction for adults and children.
Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.