The Girl Before by Rena Olsen

It takes only a moment for Clara Lawson to be taken from the life she has always known. With no warning she has been taken from her home; from her husband and daughters; a husband who as they are being separated orders her to say nothing.

Isolated from those she holds dear, every day Clara faces questions from the people who took her. Questions about her husband and his family and accusations about the unspeakable crimes they supposedly committed. At first, Clara vehemently denies every accusation but as time goes by she begins to wonder. Her past has always been full of secrets; of half truths and whole lies. With each new day she gains new information and new insight into herself and into what exactly was happening around her.

Let me begin dear reader by saying I devoured this book. I read it in just two days and if it weren’t for pesky things like eating and sleeping, I likely would have finished it in one. The Girl Before was just that good.

Dealing with such a subject as human trafficking is a tricky one but Olsen handles it with aplomb. Chapters alternate between modern time as Clara is held by the authorities and her past, both as a child as later as a married woman. We see just how blind and unquestioning she is to the events around her, having been raised to do just that. Her desire to make those around her happy make her not question things, no matter what doubts she might have.

Olsen’s characters are well written and quite believably so. Clara doesn’t see herself as a victim and only as time goes on does she realize the magnitude of what she was doing. She believed herself to be doing good things and when she realizes what was happening, her horror is heartbreaking.

An incredibly tense read on a sensitive subject, The Girl Before is one of those books that I cannot help but recommend. I urge all of my readers to check this one out.

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