Review: Girl Detached

Posted September 1, 2016

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Girl Detached Girl Detached by Manuela Salvi, Denise Muir (translator)
Published by The Bucket List on 8th September 2016
Genres: YA
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

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.

The synopsis for Girl Detached drew me in immediately but if I’m honest it was the fact that this book was banned in Italy made me want to read it all the more.

Alek is a 16 year old girl. Until now she has lived with her Grandmother, but following her Gran’s death she is forced to move in with her Mum and her new family. Alek was close to her Gran. She appreciated everything that her Gran did for her and gave her – even if those flannel shirts were two sizes too big.

Alek loves to act. She works with a local theatre group and finds that when she gets into character the stammer that affects her speech disappears.

Upon moving in with her Mum she makes friends with the girl next door, Megan. Megan is clearly in with the cool crowd and makes it her mission to makeover Alek. Gone are the flannel shirts and in come heels, skirts and make-up. It’s through Megan that Alek meets Reuben, he’s studying law, drives a nice car, comes from a family of lawyers and invites her to the theatre. However, Reuben has a role in mind for Alek, a role that she may not realise until it’s too late.

This book had me completely gripped. To tell you the truth, it was an uncomfortable read in many places but it was a story I knew I had to read.

Salvi tackles some huge issues and difficult subject matter in this book. She doesn’t shy away from detail, delving deeper than I had anticipated, and undoubtedly darker.

I genuinely can’t decide how much detail to divulge in this post. I think part of the power of this story was that I didn’t know what to expect going in. However I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t forewarn you of some of the subject matter addressed in this book. So, if you want know, click that little “spoiler” section below.

View Spoiler »

While this subject matter was evidently deemed unsuitable for young adults in Salvi’s native Italy, I am pleased to see such a brave, unflinching story be published in the UK. After all, the issues discussed are ones faced by young, vulnerable girls in our society. They are issues we see discussed all too frequently in the news. To me, it is right that young adults should be able to read further on the subject, particularly through a character that is relatable to many.

This is a brave, hard-hitting and incredibly important novel. It is not a light, easy read. I’ve no doubt that as well as raising awareness and opening up discussion on the subject, it will provide a lifeline to those who find themselves in situations similar to that of Alek.

To my mind, this is a book to admire, to provoke discussion and to engage adults young and old alike. While it is a book to be approached with a certain amount of caution, it is not a book that should be banned and hidden away. That said, I can see how the content and detail may have caused controversy in Italy. However, I have a great amount of respect for Salvi and her storytelling.