The Girl Who Survived
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
When Kara McIntyre was seven years old, her world is shattered when her parents and two of her three half-brothers are murdered on Christmas. Her older sister, Marlie disappeared and is believed to be deceased while her half-brother Jonah is accused of the murders and has been in jail since.
When Marlie locks Kara in the attic, to keep her safe, she disappears and Kara discovers the murders on her own. She then runs from an off-duty cop, thinking he is the murderer, but he saves her life, only to die minutes later of a heart attack. Now, 20 years later, Jonah is being released because of a glitch in the evidence chain, which was recently discovered by Jonah’s loyal lawyer, who has been working on this case for two decades.
Now 27 years old, Kara suffers from extreme anxiety, alcoholism and paranoia, because of her guilt as her testimony helped put away Jonah so many years ago. She also has tremendous guilt over the death of the off-duty cop, who saved her life. Two decades of trauma haunt Kara throughout her life, and she forever wonders about the fate of her sister, Marlie. With no friends, and only one remaining family member, her aunt, who doesn’t have the best of intentions regarding Kara and her inheritance. Her life has been a series of therapy, severe anxiety, paranoia, and heavy alcohol usage to take the edge off. Having the media attention hype up as Jonah is released from prison, Kara is looking for someone to trust. She finds a confidant in Wes, a freelance journalist and the son of the off-duty cop who passed away. They work together to solve the mystery of who is responsible for “The Cold Lake Massacre” and whether Marlie was also a victim, or is she still alive? When Kara receives cryptic messages that indicate Marlie is alive, along with discovering the dead body of Jonah’s dedicated lawyer the day after Jonah is released, things get more personal.
The questions and probable answers of what actually happened on that infamous night two decades ago make for a suspenseful page turner. Is Jonah innocent? And where is Marlie? And is Kara the next victim? The Girl Who Survived grabbed me for the first page until the very last. There was some repetition in the middle, but the mystery overshadows it. I enjoyed Kara’s traumatized but determined character and empathized with her. The scenes of the massacre are vivid and written out in a way that may trigger some readers. My first book by Lisa Jackson and I can’t wait to pick up the next one in the series.