Your Preview Verdict: Girl A by Abigail Dean

Your Preview Verdict: Girl A by Abigail Dean

‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

‘There are things your body doesn’t allow you to forget’ and there are things that your memory tries to protect you from. I began this novel thinking I was about to experience a sensationalist story of childhood trauma and the protagonist’s attempts to rebuild a life in its aftermath. This novel was something different and so much more. The reader is thrust directly into the mind of Lex Gracie, we experience her grief, her unreliable memories and trauma first hand. This novel was completely enthralling and compelling. I was unable to tear myself away as piece by piece Lex’s jigsaw of memories were placed into sequence. ‘Girl A’ is not always an easy read emotionally. However, it is brilliantly written and a wonderful read. I find myself even now unable to forget the story and characters. A brilliant debut novel by Abigail Dean and I will wait with anticipation for her next novel. – Sarah, NSW, 5 Stars

Lex Gracie is known as Girl A. The girl who escaped the House of Horrors. After the death of her mother, it falls upon Lex to decide what to do with the house that brought so much suffering to her and her siblings at the hands of their parents. Wanting to turn the House of Horrors into a place of good, Lex seeks out her siblings to discuss her plans with the place. The story transitions seamlessly between past and present, slowly revealing the extent of the shocking and deeply disturbing neglect and abuse each of the siblings endured and how their experiences have affected them into adulthood. Dark, gripping and intense, Girl A is a story that will stay with you long after turning the final page. – Christine, VIC, 5 Stars

This debut novel has been lauded far and wide as a game-changer. Which it is. Absolutely. Ms Dean has imagined an utterly compelling premise and revealed the story of Lex Gracie, vignette by painful vignette. Lex, Girl A, was a teenager when she ran from her home and in so doing, set her siblings free. At heart, this is a horror story but is told with such extraordinary empathy and is so beautifully written that it often transcends its confronting genesis. My heart broke for each of the Gracie children. Compelling, haunting and unforgettable, Girl A is a must-read. – Karen, VIC, 5 Stars

Days after reading ‘Girl A’ and I’m still thinking about it. How does a family go on living this way without anyone realising? Those poor kids and what they went through and what they are still going through as adults. ‘Girl A’ is a great book about resilience and survival. My first thought was “With all the statements I’m reading about the book, is it going to live up to its expectation”? ‘Girl A’ is promoted as the biggest fiction debut of 2021. All I thought was great cos it probably won’t be, as I have found this with previous books. Well, I was wrong and I couldn’t put the book down. It was good, it was really good. Can’t wait to see it on the screen. As I kept reading, I kept thinking that is it about the real ‘House of Horrors’ involving the USA Turpin family. Lots of similarities. Did one of the children write this book or did the author, Abigail Dean research this family or similar families the this has happened too. ‘Girl A’ goes from past to present showing us slowly how a family becomes the way it does but also shows us what happens to the children after they are rescued and the effects the trauma has on their future lives. Lex Gracie is Girl A. The child that escaped from the House of Horrors. She takes us on a journey of what has happened to her and her siblings. The story is disturbing and very sad with the abuse and neglect these children suffered. It’s very lifelike and believable due to these cases being found around the world. – Maria, SA, 5 Stars

One word I would definitely use to describe this book is WOW. It sucked me in right from the start. It describes the good the bad and the absolutely horrible lengths some people will go to. As a mother, I cried and can’t believe people could do those sort of things. Loved it and would definitely read it again. – Christine, QLD, 5 Stars

Wow, Abigail Dean’s Girl A is a powerful and harrowing tale of horrific childhood trauma and its devastating effects and spectrum of life-long repercussions on Lex – Girl A – and her siblings. Not for the faint-hearted, this is a gripping and intriguing psychological study. I can see this forming the basis of a thrilling movie also! Highly recommended! Many thanks to Better Reading for the opportunity to read and review Abigail Dean’s Girl A. – Imogen, VIC, 5 Stars

Girl A was a very gripping and compelling read. The subject matter was quite confronting but was delicately handled. I enjoyed it very much and thoroughly recommend it. – Susan, NSW, 5 Stars

Girl A had me hooked from the first page. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel, it was that good! Girl A is Lex; one of the children of the Gracie family held captive in the House of Horrors and she is the one who is brave enough to escape. When Lex’s mother dies in prison, Lex has to face the past. The story moves between past and present day, how the children suffered at the hands of their parents and how they are now living and dealing with their childhood trauma in their adult life. Although this is a dark story, it is actually beautifully written, and I never found it depressing. The author doesn’t dwell on the abuse that takes place and it is often up to us to assume what has taken place, although we know it is horrific. What was often heartbreaking was the loss of the simple childhood moments most of us take for granted. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel which was both heartbreaking and uplifting. Thank you Harper Collins and Better Reading for the opportunity to preview this amazing book. – Kim, VIC, 5 Stars

“Girl A” by Abigail Dean A very well written and researched book, one could well be forgiven for thinking of it as a work of fact rather than one of fiction. From page one the reader is transported to another world; one where the religious beliefs of one person is progressively forced on the other members of the family. The story revolves around the courage of one person; Girl A; and her siblings, in their battle over the years to survive brutality, starvation, abuse and imprisonment at the hands of their parents, particularly their father. Once Girl A manages to escape her imprisonment, subsequently leading to the rescue of her siblings as well, the story doesn’t end there. In a way, it is another story in its own right with the struggle to regain strength of body and mind while adapting to a completely different lifestyle with families who actually bestow love and affection. Reminds us that we should all be thankful for small mercies; someone is always worse off than we are. Hard to put down. Would recommend this book to others. – Terry, SA, 5 Stars

‘You don’t know me, but you’ve seen my face.’ Alexandra Gracie, now a successful lawyer based in New York, tries to keep her family in the background. As ‘Girl A’, she is the one who escaped her family home, the ‘House of Horrors’, where she and her siblings were neglected and abused. But the death of her mother in prison requires Alexandra to return to the UK to deal with her mother’s estate. How do children who survive such horrific abuse function as adults? There were once seven siblings. Those who survived have difficult relationships with themselves, with each other and with outsiders. To face the future, Alexandra must revisit the past. She also needs to negotiate with her siblings. Will they agree to her plan for the family home? I think that Ms Dean has created a masterpiece peopled with well-developed characters. It is difficult to read and unbearably sad in places. I finished the novel, hoping for a better future but knowing that the past will always be present. – Jennifer, ACT, 5 Stars

When you get an opportunity to read a debut novel you can never be sure what you will get. Girl A reads like it was written by a veteran author rather than a first-time novelist. I connected with the character of Girl A from the start and whilst the subject matter was not always an easy read I couldn’t put it down. I’ll be keeping my eye out for her next book. – Charlotte, WA, 5 Stars

A story of a girl and her siblings who survived horrors as a child at the hands of their parents. A fantastically written book which will have you captured from the first chapter. Defiantly a book you can’t put down. – Heather, NSW, 5 Stars

Girl A by Abigail Dean Thanks to Better Reading for my advance copy of Girl A by Abigail Dean. I loved this novel. From the first page, it kept me enthralled. Lex (Girl A) opens her life to us as she deals with family issues while giving us a peek into her earlier life in the so-called House of Horrors. Having just survived an abusive existence along with her six siblings, Lex escapes and raises the attention of authorities who release her siblings. The children are separated and adopted but are allowed occasional supervised reunions. Lex returns to study ultimately becoming a talented lawyer. Dean has caught the reader in her web and never lets you go. Your thoughts constantly revert to how could this happen and why is it still happening the world over. The sudden twist near the end of the story is quite surprising and shocking. Dean portrays the weaknesses of abusers and their potential to exact punishment on everyone to cover their frailties. A very engaging but horrendous storyline. I look forward to more of Dean’s work. – Annette, ACT, 5 Stars

I loved this book, the best I have read in a long time. Well written and intriguing from the first page, it was hard to put down. The mixed emotions that Lex – Girl A and her family experienced were gripping and also heartbreaking with an unexpected twist. This book is a must-read and I know will become a best seller. – Loren, NSW, 5 Stars

Girl A is not a story that can be easily forgotten. It grips you from the beginning and holds on to you well after the last page is turned. This harrowing story is unlike anything I’ve ever read before and written in such a way that you are held captive, page in, page out. This book is the reason I love doing previews. It’s unlikely I would have picked this book to add to my reading pile, but I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to read it. I honestly don’t have the right words to describe this one. It has to be read to be experienced. – Belinda, VIC, 5 Stars

Wow, what a page-turner of a book could not put this book down, Lex Gracie is known as Girl A after she escapes from a “ house of horrors “ where herself and siblings suffered abuse and neglect from their parents, the children all get adopted to different families but still have problems, don’t want to give too much away but this is going to be a best seller. – Deborah, NSW, 5 Stars

Thank you for the opportunity to read Girl A. Girl A is a fascinating read into an unreal situation. Lex escapes her family ‘house of horrors’. She and her siblings later inherited the house and an amount of cash. They are all required to agree with what to do with it. Lex is now a successful lawyer but has some very understandable issues and ways she deals with those and to cope. Some of these become clearer throughout the book as she contacts all of her siblings. Some of this contact brings her past into her present and sets her back in any recovery. The story went between the present and past showing how her family declined and the role each played in the outcome. This was further shown by the treatment they received afterwards by different specialists and being sent to different homes. All of these impacted greatly and forever altered dynamics. It was a confronting read showing the ongoing issues of the past which showed the complexity of this family’s life – a very thought-provoking read. – Tara, SA, 4 Stars

Girl A begins with a death, the death of a mother. Instead of the expected grief and sadness, the incident is met with grim relief, almost pleasure, by Girl A. This moment sets the tone of the book – twists and turns as the horrors of Girl A’s childhood are revealed, and we are shown how these experiences defined and continued to affect her. Abigail Dean keeps her cards close to her chest. There are no big and immediate reveals here, rather the novel is a slow burn as it slowly exposes the layers of the lives of the eponymous Girl A and her siblings. The book speaks to us about the ability that some people have to survive the unimaginable, as bodies and minds are stretched almost beyond endurance. It also speaks to us of the endurance of love that family – either biological or otherwise – can provide for each other. We cheer for Girl A, we want her to find happiness, closure, the peace of mind that someone who has experienced the events she has, deserves. Dean’s smart and clever writing style ensures that we are gripped until the final page. – Kate, VIC, 4 Stars

Girl A was a gripping read. Right from the first page, it had me hooked. Any book with a title like Girl A has you wondering about why she would be not titled with a name. What happened to her? It must have been traumatic. So I was eager to find out. Once I could understand all the characters in the book I found it a book that I was keen to keep picking up to finish. I would recommend it to other thriller readers because it makes you want to get to the end to find out the twist. It was well worth the wait. – Kim, VIC, 4 Stars

I received an uncorrected proof copy thanks to Better Reading and Harper Collins. This book is heralded to be one of the biggest fiction debuts in 2021, with the rights already sold for a major tv show. This book did not disappoint – the narrative was suspenseful and powerful and the experiences of Lex Gracie (Girl A) and her siblings was confronting and disturbing. The story was told alternately by Lex in the present day, as a successful lawyer dealing with the trauma of her childhood abuse, and her memories as a child of what her and her 6 siblings experienced in the family home. Her childhood experiences are told in a way that is raw and washes you with empathy, sadness, anger and incredulity. Lex, her siblings and their parents are all complex characters. I had so many questions about “why” throughout the book, and the author only hints at the “why” in a very subtle way, leaving the reader to ponder the why. – Bree, NSW, 4 Stars

This is a challenging book to read. Written from the voice of one of the survivors, it recounts the experiences of all of the children by turn – which can be a little confusing at times. As the book progresses, things become clearer but no less confronting. I was drawn into the experiences of the characters and their emotions, interpretations and fears were poignantly and powerfully portrayed. The author drags you along, sometimes somewhat reluctantly, as you observe the effects of these childhood experiences on the different children. The reader cannot remain a ‘passive observer’ for long; rather you are manoeuvred into witnessing the worst that humanity (and parenthood) can offer. This is an incredibly powerful novel. Right up to the final sentence you are left to wonder how it will conclude. – Lee, ACT, 4 Stars

This book was really enjoyable and hard to put down, although the topic of child neglect is not a nice one, it will certainly stay with me for a while. There are a lot of flashbacks throughout the book which can be hard to follow and a bit confusing at times, but this is how the children’s lives are described in the house of Horrors and how they are (now) as adults. Throughout the book, it continues to deliver new and hard-hitting information about their previous lives in the house but the end of the book it a little lacking in a final punch although it is obviously the end it is missing a little something. A very enjoyable book and certainly worth reading. – Tara, ACT, 4 Stars

“Girl A” by Abigail Dean, was an interesting read. It jumps back and forward from then to now as it tells the story of Alexandra Gracie and her abusive childhood at the hands of her parents. As a debut novel, it’s a great start. The characters for me didn’t have enough depth and felt a bit stilted and contrived at times. A quick easy read. – Leigh, VIC, 3 Stars

Girl A by Abigail Dean Abigail, from the very start, managed to weave a sad and depressing story. Using her very creative writing skills, she dragged me into the lives of a very damaged family. She was able to paint a very vivid picture of how the Gracie children were being physically and mentally tortured by their father and how their mother couldn’t or wouldn’t save them. The story jumps between the siblings and their traumatic stories and is told by Alexandra, Girl A. I marvelled at how this author through her storytelling could get me to use my imagination without the need to spell everything out. Not a page-turner for me. All I wanted was a happy ending but I think that would be a long way off or maybe never for the survivors of 11 Moor Woods Road. Maybe in a sequel? – Sharon, ACT, 4 Stars

A vivid debut!! It’s so disturbing and unsettling that it grips you to race through the pages to know how the story unfolds and ends. Then you would want to hide the book away because it’s so chilling… – Neelima, NSW, 4 Stars

This I would say is a strong and gripping book, and thanks to the Author Abigail Dean was a well written and somewhat heartbreaking tale of abuse, escape and what I would call rebirth. The subject matter is at times hard to read but we have all heard the stories before and this takes some of those stories and brings them to life and brings a more human side to a victim such as Girl A. From victim to hero and everything in between this book will keep you reading and keep you enthralled. The story goes from past to present smoothly and tells you all sides, the in and out and the upside downs of a girl and her siblings abused and now getting on in life and doing good with what was left behind. This book did keep me reading but some of the language I thought was unnecessary, and sometimes I think we have too many books and stories that are sad, violent and in some respect awful stories but they do seem to be all the rage now. I wouldn’t call it an enjoyable read but it was an interesting and gripping tale. – Donna, TAS, 4 Stars

This was an intense and unforgettable psychological thriller. I was hooked from the beginning and can’t wait to see the TV Show. Thank you Better Reading and HarperCollins for the opportunity to read this book for an honest review. – Meg, SA, 4 Stars

I found Girl A an absolutely fascinating read. The focus of this book is how this group of siblings, who survived horrific abuse as children, then struggle to heal and move on and live their lives. After they escaped the house of horrors of their fanatical father they were separated and it is the death of their mother in jail that is the catalyst for them to reconnect 15 years later. The best description I would have for this story is a psychological drama, with the story of their family, their childhood and their transition into adulthood told through a series of flashbacks. It is truly a gripping, believable and heartbreaking tale. At times I found the change in timelines and perspectives a little confusing but in some ways that fit with the chaos of the story. I am certainly glad I read it and I would recommend it to others who enjoy a deeply psychological, character-led story. – Virginia, NSW, 4 Stars

Just a year or two ago news broke of a family that had been locked away from the world in horrific circumstances by their parents – have you ever wondered how this happened or where they are now? In a novel inspired by the Turpin family’s ordeal, the six Gracie siblings have moved on into adulthood with varying degrees of success at a normal life. Some have embraced the notoriety, others have no idea who they really are. When their mother dies in prison, Lex – Girl A – is appointed executor of her estate and must contact her siblings regarding plans for the house that was their prison for so long. Moving between past and present, the family’s slow descent into madness unfolds and the impact upon Lex and the other children is exposed, as are secrets that have been long buried. Can everyone survive facing the past? Girl A is a thought-provoking and entertaining slow burn that I can certainly recommend. Thanks to Better Reading for my ARC. – Juanita, NSW, 4 Stars

‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’ Abigail Dean’s debut novel is a riveting, gripping masterpiece that will leave you constantly thinking about Girl A and her harrowing and challenging life. Girl A focuses on the life of Lexie and her siblings who grew up in the house of horrors. What they all were put through was astonishing and utterly mind-blowing. Lexie does not want to think about her past or deal with the memories, but when her mother dies, Lexie is placed as executor of her will. As a result, Lexie and her siblings must relieve the nightmares and the horror of their past to move forward. The descriptions, the notions and the emotions within the book are very powerful and stay with you even after you finish reading. – Amy, NSW, 4 Stars

Girl A is an amazingly written novel! The flow between timelines is seamless. This storyline held me captive throughout eager to learn about all siblings and where they ended in life after having such an unbelievable upbringing. Will be eagerly awaiting future novels by Abigail Dean. Thank you to Better Reading for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. – Jacinda, NSW, 4 Stars

Wow, this was such a great surprise. The cover did not appeal to me, but there were endorsements from some of my favourite authors. So while I started with some scepticism, Girl A had me hooked very quickly. Named as her mother’s executor, Lex is forced to confront her past and reconnect with her siblings. Lex’s narration of her family’s story is pitch-perfect, details of their descent into squalor emerge gradually, steadily ratcheting up the tension. Terrifying and gripping reading, unputdownable, and heartbreaking. A superb debut novel. – Terese, TAS, 4 Stars

Girl A is both a heartbreaking look into the life of a child abuse victim and an uplifting tale of a survivor overcoming terrible emotional and physical trauma. It documents the life of Lex, designated Girl A by the police force and the media, as she comes to grips with her abuser’s death, and the inheritance of the house of horrors that twisted parental love into religious fervour, and finally needless neglect and abuse. Will she be able to create anything positive from her past? The writing is well thought out, albeit confronting and dark at times, evenly paced, switching seamlessly between the present day and the pain-filled past. It is a clever and surprising read, and one that both lovers of crime fiction and family dramas will agree is a good read. – Shontel, NSW, 4 Stars

Every so often we see articles in the press about shocking cases of abuse and neglect of children by their parents and yet we rarely find out what becomes of those children who survive. This is the fictional account of a group of siblings, told by the girl (“A”) who managed to escape a household, unimaginatively dubbed “The House of Horrors” by the press, ruled by a religious fanatic Father and complicit, or coerced, Mother, when she is an adult and after their Mother dies in prison. The Mother appointed Lex, known as Girl A in the media, as her executor and thus begins Lex’s journey to face the rotting house where so much happened which the, now mostly adult, siblings inherit, together with £20,000, and decide what to do with it and gain her siblings’ agreement. Full of triggers but delicately nuanced and cleverly opaque about the extent of the abuse suffered, this is a compelling, gripping book which shows how disturbed those who survive trauma can be. I was hooked throughout this book although I did find the twist at the end to be rather clunky. Thanks to Better Reading for the opportunity to read this powerful novel. – Pamela, SA, 4 Stars

There’s a lot in this book reminiscent of a similar story in the media a couple of years ago… Unfortunately it wasn’t a one of and there are people who survive the seemingly unsurvivable. Lex (Girl A) is one of them and seems to be an unbelievable success story. She appears to have everything under control, having adjusted to life after surviving her childhood House of Horrors. The story is told through Lexies lens and you can understand how she sees things and her reactions, even while having some understanding of her siblings that she doesn’t seem to share. It’s a dark, addictive read you don’t want to put down even when it takes you places you didn’t want to go… – Ayesha, NSW, 4 Stars

A thoughtful exploration of what happens to the victims of a sensational crime after the headlines have moved on. This book is not a suspense-driven thriller, but rather a sympathetic character-driven story that shows the deep impact of trauma on the human psyche. Recommended. – Lisa, VIC, 4 Stars

Girl A was a well written, compelling novel with a devastating storyline. Lex is Girl A who grows up with her parents and 5 siblings in a ‘ House of horrors! ‘ Combining a cruel father and a subservient mother the children suffered physical and emotional abuse until Lex, through desperation and much agonising planning finally escapes the house and finds help. The story progresses back and forth between the children’s lives pre and post escape. With the story being told in this way it gave me a breather between reading about the unimaginable abuse, neglect and suffering of the children. Post escape Lex as an adult has dealings with her mother’s death then subsequently her siblings. Lex and her siblings lives after the escape held my interest. No-one could predict how they all turned out. You must read Girl A and see for yourself. – Gail, NSW, 4 Stars

Well, this book was definitely a surprise! I didn’t expect to feel so much from this book. Such an intense, dark, horrifying and heartbreaking story that was written so well, it sucks you in easily. I did, however, have to put it down many times and pick it up again later as it was a pretty heavy read. I couldn’t just finish it in one sitting, but I definitely enjoyed it and will think of Lex, the other children, house and story for a long time. A great read for 2021! Thanks so much! – Jennifer, WA, 4 Stars

Girl A is a very well and beautifully written novel. Although I did enjoy reading it I was left a little disappointed. I found that at some points I was confused as to whether we were in the present day or remembering back to the House of Horrors. I also felt as though the chapters were named after each child but found little information about them and found that it was mostly about Girl A. I would have liked to read more about what went on in the House of Horrors so I could have more feeling or understanding of what the children went through. I still recommend this novel as I think the author is very talented and easy to read. I just was left wanting more. – Renae, QLD, 3 Stars

Girl A is tough to describe. The style, genre and tone doesn’t fit easily into one category. It reminded me of My Dark Vanessa – despite the dark subject matter it’s beautifully written and moving, even though at times I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable reading it. Girl A is so many things – thrilling, gut-wrenching, disturbing, sad, intriguing, overwhelming and unputdownable. Abigail Dean has woven a tale that feels real and mirrors aspects of so many awful news stories we see splashed across the media. It will stay with you long after you turn the final page. – Kerrie, NSW, 3 Stars

This book relied on one’s imagination to have their mind’s eye play out the graphic details that were hinted at, triggering such high emotions of concern for the Girl and her siblings by the reader. A wonderfully wreathed story going from past to present, that truly holds the reader spellbound wanting to know more about the relationship intricacies between the characters and the siblings, and the girl coming to terms with things, while the entire time trying to work out what terrors took place and were suffered before they played out in written form. This book had me gripped from cover to cover, and that’s a good thing because I only received it two days ago, which is pretty short notice to receive a book and read it and then write a review! – Diana, VIC, 2 Stars

Reviews

Redemption, Horror and Love: Read an Extract of Girl A by Abigail Dean

Review | Extract

22 January 2021

Redemption, Horror and Love: Read an Extract of Girl A by Abigail Dean

    Dark, Intense and Absolutely Enthralling: Read our Review of Girl A by Abigail Dean

    Review | Our Review

    22 January 2021

    Dark, Intense and Absolutely Enthralling: Read our Review of Girl A by Abigail Dean

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        Publisher details

        Girl A
        Author
        Abigail Dean
        Publisher
        HarperCollins
        Genre
        Crime Fiction
        Released
        03 March, 2021

        Synopsis

        Girl A,' she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.'Lex Gracie doesn't want to think about her family. She doesn't want to think about growing up in her parents' House of Horrors. And she doesn't want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can't run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.
        Abigail Dean
        About the author

        Abigail Dean

        Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took last summer off to work on her debut novel, Girl A, ahead of her thirtieth birthday. She now works as a lawyer for Google, and is currently writing her second novel.

        Books by Abigail Dean

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