Girl Forgotten by April Henry
An exciting young adult thriller that will appeal to fans of true crime podcasts!
It’s Piper Gray’s final year at North High School, and a requirement for graduation is completing a senior passion project. Piper, a fan of a wildly popular true-crime podcast, decides to launch her own podcast featuring the decades-old unsolved murder of a local teen, Layla Trello.
Layla had been a student at Piper’s high school when she had gone missing from a Halloween party almost 17 years earlier. Two weeks later, her unclothed body was found on the banks of a nearby creek in a relatively hidden location frequented only by locals. Most people had either forgotten her tragic story or, having moved to the area since the event, never knew it. However, when Piper’s podcast takes off, she starts to get threatening notes to drop it. Somebody hasn’t forgotten, and someone out there listening to the podcast knows “Who Killed Layla Trello.”
Girl Forgotten by author April Henry is a fascinating young adult thriller that had me glued to its pages from the very start. The main characters have compelling backstories, and in their current lives, they are still overcoming their pasts which makes for an absolutely riveting read.
Piper Gray is new in town, now living with her biological father and his wife and children, after growing up with just her mother, a single mom who always had to work hard to make ends meet. The discovery of the senior passion project catches her off guard; she just wants to coast through this last year of high school and be on her way, free to escape the uncomfortable living situation with her father’s new family. Her father and his family are not unkind or horrible people; it’s just that Piper doesn’t really know them and feels like an outsider intruding into their established and settled lives and routines. Her grief over her mother is palpable, and I was dumbfounded when it was finally revealed what had happened to her. But throughout, Piper remains focused on uncovering Layla’s story and unmasking a murderer. Of course, she is excited and pleased by her podcast’s success, but I felt she wanted justice for Layla rather than simply using her tragedy for self-promotion.
The book is told partly in narrative and partly as transcripts of the finished podcast episodes, which really capture the essence of the events. The little details of creating a podcast and producing quality weekly content (and on a shoestring) were fascinating. The story contains some great twists that, when revealed, literally made me exclaim out loud! I think the final reveal of the killer will be a surprise to most readers, but there are clues along the way to their identity and motive. This ultimately makes for a very tense showdown and, eventually, a very satisfying ending.
I recommend GIRL FORGOTTEN to readers who enjoy young adult thrillers, true-crime podcasts, and stories set in the Pacific Northwest.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy through TBR and Beyond Book Tours.