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The Girls of No Return

The Girls of No Return is a YA contemporary novel by Erin Saldin.

Alice Marshall School for Girls is in Idaho, across miles of wilderness separated by technology and civilization, to help girls that are sent there for a variety of issues.

Sixteen-year-old Lida has a strained relationship with her father, a brusque civility with her stepmother, and a secret.

When she arrives at AMS it’s like being at camp – yet not. She meets Boone, the veteran of the school that “welcomes” the newbies, Jules, whose happy-go-lucky attitude is at odds with their situation, and Gia, whose exotic accent, beauty, and enigmatic personality makes her the mystery on everyone’s mind.

Gia mesmerizes Lida – and when Gia starts to talk to her, befriend her, Lida feels special – particularly sought out.

But there’s a reason they’re all at AMS – and those hidden issues will come out – whether they want them to or not…

The Girls of No Return was an interesting read. And, by the way, I know that sentence is considered by some to be the kiss of death – for me, it’s not. When I say that, I mean that it sparked my interest – but that I was also perplexed as to how I felt about it.

Here, the snippets of epilogue peppered throughout the novel – from an older, future Lida – gives The Girls of No Return an edgy vibe that in the beginning was really lacking in the meat and potatoes of the story. At first I was not riveted by the Idaho school for girls – because that’s all it felt like. I felt like I was in class with them – not exactly what any reader is looking for, I would suspect. I knew the biggest problem was that I needed to get to know Lida better.

However, with time it slowly became more and more emotionally gripping. Erin Salder methodically pulls back the curtain to reveal Lida’s issue and create a sometimes chilling, calmer Girl, Interrupted atmosphere.

With that patience came a sometimes disturbing, increasingly sad and hurtful story that was tough but true. I didn’t always love Lida or her choices, but I did feel for her – and the unexpected, painful The Girls of No Return ended up being rewarding.

A good choice for readers that want to delve into that deeper, darker side of psychological issues – definitely not a light read by any standard. But ultimately a valuable, meaningful book.

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