Book Club Read: The Good Girl

It can be really difficult to pick book club books. First, there are the different personalities and reading preferences of the book club members. Then you really do want something that will illicit strong reactions, either way. You want something that isn’t difficult to make yourself read but you want it to inspire discussion.

Before book club I always take a look and see if I can’t find some titles that might appeal to us all, that has been tipped as being a good book club pick because something about it made it good fodder for discussion.

Which is how we ended up reading The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. I had seen it on The Huffington Post’s book section, on a list of books that your book club will love. I don’t think we’d read a thriller before so we thought it could inspire a different kind of conversation.

We haven’t met yet but I don’t think this is that book. Before I started reading it, at least one member had mentioned that the book wasn’t gripping them, that they found it difficult to make themselves get on with the reading. Not a good sign.

the good girl

Mia Dennett, a 24 year old teacher and member of a famous Chicago family, goes missing. The story alternates between the memories and experience of her mother, Eve, the search for Mia as told by Gabe, the detective assigned to find her, and that of Colin, the man who takes Mia. Certain chapters are labeled as before or after, depending on whether it is taking place before or after we know what happened to Mia.

This is another one of those books that takes advantage of its potential similarities to Gone Girl, which means that you spend the entire time waiting for the twist. When it comes, basically at the very end of the book, my reaction was “huh.” I definitely wasn’t blown away, I didn’t need a moment to collect myself, it certainly explained everything but it just wasn’t massive. It was disappointing that no real inkling had come before that there might have been more to Mia than met the eye. The only hint was that it was compared to Gone Girl but I didn’t think that Kubica herself had laid any kind of groundwork for us.

As for the characters, they all seemed dedicated to fulfilling their obligations as set forth by the central casting of books with mysterious disappearances. Eve is in an unhappy marriage, doing everything by rote, berating herself for being a disinterested parent, desperate for any kind of companionship; Gabe, who badly wants to solve this case while the media dissects the whole thing, falls for the attractive and damaged Eve; Colin is a good guy wrapped in bad guy clothes and Mia. Mia thinks she’s in control but mostly seems like she’s in a Stockholm syndrome situation.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to be obsessed with what happened to Mia. But I didn’t really and I certainly wasn’t that invested in the outcome.

I’m curious what the rest of the girls made of it.

15 thoughts on “Book Club Read: The Good Girl

  1. Oh, Bummer. This book has been on my radar for a while as a good thriller, but I guess not. On the bright side, I can cross it off the list. Bummer for your book club, though, unless everyone else loved it. I’d be interested to hear what they think.

  2. I get super stressed picking a new book club book! I made 3 or 4 friends from out side book club help vet my first choice. I’m such a nerd. I am excited for my book club this coming weekend to talk about Ove-I hope they all loved him too! As for The Good Girl, I’m glad to hear I can skip it.

  3. I had the exact same reaction to this book! It just wasn’t very gripping, I wasn’t very invested, and the whole thing just seemed to end on a strange note. It probably didn’t help that I listened to the audiobook and the narrators just didn’t work for me. But I’d agree that it is overall pretty underwhelming, especially compared to Gone Girl (which kind of blew me away).

  4. Book club books – so much stress involved in the choosing!
    I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find that whenever the big push happens for similar books when one type of book is a success (the vampire books, the Harry Potter wannabes, the soft-core porn after Shades, and now the domestic suspense) it tends to make for a lot of fairly underwhelming reads.
    I’m sorry this wasn’t what you wanted it to be. Hopefully the wine at the meeting was good? 🙂 -Tania

    • The wine at the meeting is always good – and I didn’t have to drive this time!
      I think when one book is such a success, publishers take advantage. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t. I think especially with Gone Girl, the big thing about that book is the twist. So if you’re comparing it to that book, logic tells you that there’s a big twist coming. If you see a big twist coming, it’s not as fun.

    • Since I’ve read this I’ve read a few books that I’ve liked a lot more – I just need to actually write about them!
      It does sound like you’re going to have to read it to find out where you stand! I’m curious about where you will find yourself.

  5. I know what you mean about trying to pick a book that will appeal to a group of very different readers. My friend started a book club in January and I’m supposed to choose the book we read in May…oh, the pressure! 🙂 I haven’t gotten a feel yet for what any of the others like to read, and I want it to be a book that inspires a good discussion… Sounds like The Good Girl will not be that book. Have you ever read Love Water Memory? Someone suggested that as a good one, but I don’t know. Hope your book club discussion goes well.

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