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The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes


I'll cop to a bit of reticence to start this one. I'd read other books by Lauren Beukes; specifically, I really enjoyed Broken Monsters--so I wanted to give it a go. But the time travel element spooked me.


Time Travel makes everything more complicated, and I was concerned about how that would follow-thru. I also spent a fair amount of time wondering how in the world did she pitch the novel--how do you distill the complications of time travel in just a few sentences?


In any case, I realized the novel was set in Chicago and as usual, that did it for me. I love anything set in the windy city, and the memory of how well Beukes captured Detroit propelled me to the novel, eager to see what she could do with my favorite town.


It was an incredibly compelling story, knitting together different versions of the city, eras of time that I'd heard about but had rendered neighborhoods I thought I knew unrecognizable. The victims were difficult to connect with emotionally, as a protective measure the reader knows not to get attached, but each victim was firmly planted in an era of the city's history, a conceit I found tremendously effective. Additionally, some of the victims went undiscovered by the authorities, but their vignettes gave undeniable testimony to their existence, a fitting reminder that there are many vulnerable women, vulnerable people out there who may be victims that we don't know, but that doesn't mean that they didn't matter.


Lesson learned, Next time I see a Lauren Beukes novel, I won't hesitate.

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