By Ekta R. Garg
January 13, 2016
Rated: Borrow it
After enduring a horrific tragedy, a woman does everything she can to put the event behind her and live her life. As the anniversary of the tragedy looms, however, strange occurrences drag her back to the past. Do these strange occurrences have anything to do with what happened? Who is haunting her with the choices she made as a young girl? Author Kathryn Croft offers readers this plot in the somewhat compelling novel The Girl With No Past.
Leah Mills is a lonely person, but her loneliness is mainly self-induced. She’s spent the last 14 years trying to forget a terrible incident. Leah was a part of something during her school days that resulted in a tragedy, and she’s carried her guilt ever since. Every day the event follows her no matter where she goes, filling her life to the point where there’s no room for anything else—no friends, no social life, and certainly no love life.
The guilt grows around the anniversary of the instance, and this year the guilt and Leah’s loneliness combine to drag her down even more. This year she feels something new: a desire for normalcy.
On a complete whim Leah goes online and meets Julian. She begins building a relationship with him, something she didn’t think possible. The more she gets to know Julian, the more Leah’s desire grows for that normal life. But then something new happens to quash her desire.
Someone related to her past has come back to taunt her. Leah begins receiving emails full of hate and vengeance. Despite her efforts to ignore the poisonous missives, they keep coming. Soon the email writer’s campaign takes a more forceful turn. The person doesn’t stop at emails, making it clear that the mission is to destroy everything important to Leah. With time Leah realizes if she doesn’t take the emails more seriously, the person writing them could get close enough to destroy her.
Author Kathryn Croft, in this third novel, seems settled in her chosen genre of thriller. She handles the twists and turns well, which means readers can count on many unexpected moments to surprise them. Croft sets the scene both with the physical location of gloomy London weather as well as the small box that forms Leah’s life.
In Leah, however, Croft has created a character whose self-loathing drags the story for a portion of the book. Because Croft chose to have Leah tell her story herself, in first person, readers spend a lot of time inside of Leah’s head. When the main character dislikes himself or herself as much as Leah does, the repeated exhortations that one deserves to be alone may start to grate after the fifth or so mention.
Also, a secondary character’s lead role in the tragedy in Leah’s past seems more than extreme. Croft spends a lot of time building up the event as well as Leah’s role in it, and some of that groundwork jars the story. Leah’s shaky self-esteem also doesn’t seem to fit at times, and readers may wonder occasionally whether it’s even possible to be that down on one’s self. The title, too, feels misleading, considering how much time readers spend in Leah’s past. The title on its own suggests some sort of amnesia. The story offers anything but.
Still, Croft wins points for the suspense she builds, and, extreme or not, the events of Leah’s past allow for a shocking end. Croft also includes a little something extra in the climax, and that extra something goes quite a way to making readers think twice about Leah. While the book may drag in the middle, I suggest readers Borrow The Girl With No Past.