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tgg The Good Girls (The Perfections #2) by Sara Shepard | Rating: ★★★★★

"I mean, that's where you're going with this, aren't you? Just because we rattled off some names doesn't mean we have any control over them dying or going missing or whatever."

What are my thoughts on The Good Girls? Good question. Okay, okay. Hang on. Let me catch my breath in time for this one because let’s be honest here: Sara Shepard threw me on my ass with her plot twists in the sequel to The Perfectionists. This isn’t the first time she’s done this but in this novels case… it was mind blowing. I was so shocked; my jaw hit the fucking floor.

I’m going to urge anyone who hasn’t read the conclusion of this novel to not read on when it comes to this review, because–HELLO!–spoilers.

You know those books where you think you have everything figured out? Or at least an inkling of where the plot will go, when the big reveal will come? This is absolutely one of them–I’m still in complete shock over who the killer was. I feel as though I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me.

It’s true that Sara is the master of suspense, of manipulating our emotions, of giving us a false sense of comfort only to tear it away. So I think it’s safe to say that everyone was expecting a twist of epic proportions, but I am surprised. Delightfully so.

The packaging for this book, the tagline and the warnings of an ending you never saw coming are so true. It was genuinely the last thought on my mind. So kudos for Sara Shepard for pulling off such a turn so effortlessly and for filling in the blanks for us all. Everything was there, set up for us, and while it was curious we didn’t think much of it because these are things that are so easy to overlook.

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? When we last left Beacon Heights, our five leading ladies were in serious hot water over a conversation they had. It all started out as a prank, as an outlet for stress, but these girls are now way over their own heads. As a joke, they discussed who they’d most want to die and how, and unfortunately for them these people are dropping like flies.

In. The. Exact. Way. They. Talked. About.

The hunt is on for the killer as more and more people they’d spoke of mysteriously die. First, there was Nolan. Then, their creepy teacher, Mr. Granger. There are a few more people on the list and eventually, the girls have to make the connection and try to prevent these deaths from continuing – but is it too late?

One by one, more from their list die or are injured. Ashley, the girl who is slowly ruining Julie’s life, goes missing after humiliating Julie publicly. Parker’s abusive father is murdered in jail. Leslie, Ava’s asshole of a step-mother, falls mysteriously from the balcony and is in a coma.

There’s only one person left on the list: Mac’s best “friend”, Claire. But is this all a creepy coincidence? Or is the girl in definite danger? It would seem so, and in spite of their current situation, Mac feels it to be her responsibility to protect the girl who was once her closest friend.

In between the deaths and the mysteries, there’s glimpses of romance and friendships that bring us a bit of ease. Ava and Alex reunite. Caitlin and Jeremy are officially a couple but are having a difficult time balancing their differences. Carson and Julie are going strong.

And their friendships. These girls stick together and stand up for each other, especially after the Ashley situation – but there is quickly questions about one of them being the true killer. But who? Things grow weirder and weirder as they are questioned about their involvement–everyone except Parker.

Yet in Parker’s narration, we seem to be noticing things. Worrying things. There are gaps in her memory. Far too many–these gaps are brushed off as a memory issue due to her father’s beatings. But is that all? Slowly, memories come creeping back to her: Parker is the killer.

And Julie decides to cover it up for her best friend. It is Julie who hides the body of Ashley. But this soon begins to eat the girl alive: she is now the accessory to a crime.

There is nothing Julie wouldn’t do for Parker.

But who is Parker, really? Nobody ever acknowledges her. Ever. It’s like she doesn’t exist to anyone besides Julie, now. She is the one who started the discussion that's gotten them in this mess, yet the police don’t question her, the girls don’t speak directly to her and they certainly are never alone with her. This is where things get tricky–mid book, you begin to realize this.

Long stares from people, confused expressions that are supposedly from her scars. Parker constantly borrowing clothing and earrings from Julie but never remembering actually doing it. Parker’s bizarre interactions with her mother. How sometimes she slips through the cracks during social interactions. And then the graveyard incident with Dr. Fielder; the look of surprise the first time he met Parker.

We all were duped thinking that Parker was there all along, that people simply didn’t notice her because of the attack on her–yet nobody ever directly addresses her by her name.

Ever. We were duped by the fact that when Julie brings Parker up, everyone has a sympathetic expression on their face. How Carson wanted to talk about Parker the night that things started unraveling–he had found out that Parker, the girl Julie constantly referred to as her best friend, had been dead for a year.

We were so blinded by the narration that was convincing. By her friendship and interactions with Julie and the other girls. Everything goes through Julie. Julie is Parker. Parker is Julie. Julie is the killer and she is very, very, very sick.

Her illness comes from years of abuse and neglect and humiliation by the hand of her mother. It also comes from her guilt that on the night real Parker died, she felt she could have prevented it. So to make herself feel better, more leveled, she has delusions that Parker never died.

Only Parker did die. I think this is the most shocking plot twist Sara has thrown at me.

These peaces fall together in real time with Ava, Caitlin and Mac. After Mac saves Claire’s life, when Julie tries to run her down with a car as Parker, the girls decide the only thing that they can do is go to the police with their suspicions.

Every weird action, Julie’s earring being left at Ava’s house the day her step-mother was hurt, Julie having cyanide at her house, Julie’s feud with Ashley and grudge against Nolan, the folder on Julie at Mr. Granger’s house, Julie driving past Claire’s house unexpectedly. It all fit – the girls are blind sided by this and equal parts scared of and sympathetic to Julie, and it’s all a very satisfying end.

All along there had only been four girls in their circle. It was always curious to these three that Julie seemed to contradict herself in their conversations, how she acts different sometimes: but how were they supposed to know that bubbly, popular, beautiful Julie was going through all of this on her own?

By the time Julie turns herself in, Beacon Heights is buzzing as the crimes have been solved. Ava confesses to her father about Leslie’s treatment of her, her father admits to having just found out about it himself, Jeremy and Caitlin are stronger than ever, Mac and Claire are friends once more.

It looks like happily ever after begins in Beacon Heights…

And then, news is out that Julie has broken out of the hospital she was committed to. It’s shocking, really, to know that someone so unbalanced is out there once more. Our last scene is of Julie and Parker eating in a hotel room, together once more.

The Good Girls ends on an eerily soft note with all of this. Loose ends were mostly tied up, sure, but I still have a lot of questions. I’ve heard that The Perfectionists is meant to be a air of books and not a fully fledged series. However, the way that the novel ends leaves room for more stories to tell just as easily as it marks an end.

I will say this, TGG was far better than TP. It was wildly entertaining, shocking and a massive ride that I won’t soon forget. And part of me really, really wants to know what’s next for Julie.

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