I read a lot of thrillers, but I always find it difficult to find a good one. A lot of them are just really hard to get into – whether it be from lack of details and a plot that make the book truly memorable, a predictable plot twist (or twists), or a book that’s just so fast paced that we don’t really have any time to actually connect with the characters and get to know them.
In the case of The Girl I Used to Be, I kind of felt like I was reading a short story as opposed to a full length book. For one, I was able to read the entire thing in one sitting, and then there was the pacing of the book, which was just so fast it was almost impossible to keep up with it. I didn’t feel like I got to know any of the characters in the book, especially the main character, Olivia. Because of this, I didn’t really find myself caring much about the problems she was faced with, and this detachment kind of ruined the book for me.
Olivia is a teenage girl who is almost eighteen, and she is emancipated and living on her own. When she was a little girl, her mother was killed, and her father disappeared. She spent a very long time thinking that her father had murdered her mother, as did everyone else who followed the case. However, when some police officers come to their house to inform Olivia that they found her father’s jawbone, it doesn’t seem very likely that her father is the murderer after all.
So, when Olivia goes back to the town she lived in before her grandmother died and she went to foster care, she plans on going to the memorial service for her father. She meets her grandmother’s neighbor when she stops to see the house, and gives her a ride. Lying about her identity to everyone so that they don’t pity her or ask too many questions, Olivia sits through the service and then goes back to her grandmother’s house, telling the neighbor she was looking to rent it. So she stays with the neighbor until she can get in touch with the realtor.
Okay, taking a pause here…I hated how smug Olivia was when asking to rent the house. I mean, we have a seventeen year old girl who works at a little grocery store, probably making very little money, and she just insists that she is going to be renting this house. When the realtor has doubts and doesn’t think that’s the best idea, she keeps pushing and pushing until he decides to let her. . . .What? Really? That kind of thing doesn’t work all that well in the real world. But, pushing that aside, let’s continue, shall we?
Once she rents the house, she moves in and starts doing some research over who could have killed her parents. She starts going to hypnosis sessions to get to the bottom of things, and while she uncovers a few things, it isn’t really enough to put everything together. So she sets off to the site of her parents’ murder to look around and see if she can remember anything. After that happens, things kind of get out of hand, and then there’s a big plot twist (which I admit I didn’t really see coming, so I’m giving the book some extra credit for that), and then it’s pretty much over.
I didn’t really dislike this book, but I didn’t exactly like it, either. It did feel a bit engaging, and I more or less kept reading because I wanted to see who actually murdered Olivia’s parents. I was pretty surprised, because there weren’t really any clues (at least none that I picked up on). The pacing was just so fast, though, and it left a lot to be desired.
The characters weren’t all that memorable…I know Olivia met a boy who lived near by and wanted to start a relationship with him, but he seemed kind of cookie-cutter to me and definitely didn’t leave a lasting impression. Olivia herself just seemed kind of arrogant and annoying, and I couldn’t connect with her, either. Perhaps if the book had been a little longer so we could have actually spent some time on details, it would have been a bit better.