The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin

This book was not light and fluffy or romantic, it took me a little while to read it through.  It’s about girls, the problems they face and the way they decide to make a solution.  This book chronicles one girl’s experience in particular, Lida, as she deals with her “Thing”  and her courage to face it.  Be warned, there’s a HUGE lack of sarcasm…it’s too serious of a book for my witty comebacks.

Title: The Girls of No Return

Author: Erin Saldin

Summary (by Goodreads):

Erin Saldin’s The Girls of No Return is a lacerating young adult debut about girls, knives, and redemption. The Alice Marshall School, set within a glorious 2-million acre wilderness area, is a place where teenage girls are sent to escape their histories and themselves. Lida Wallace has tried to negate herself in every way possible. At Alice Marshall, she meets Elsa Boone, Jules, and Gia Longchamps, whose glamour entrances the entire camp. As the girls prepare for a wilderness trek, Lida is both thrilled and terrified to be chosen as Gia’s friend. Everyone has their secrets – the “Things” they try to protect; and when those come out, the knives do as well.

First three lines:

By the time our burgers arrived, I had his forehead memorized.  I mean, down to the tiniest mole up near his hairline, catty-corner from the arch of his right eyebrow.  When he’s speaking an obscure tribal language that he can’t possibly understand he has a way of knitting his brows together so that his forehead resembles a children’s science museum exhibit.

My take:

Everyone that goes to The Alice Marshall School has a “Thing”.  Drugs, abuse, sex, stealing…each girl has something to warrant them being shipped to this school.  Set in the middle of the forest, each girl for a year or more goes to school classes, counseling, and wilderness training.  Before “passing” and allowed back home, each girl needs to complete a solo trip of camping and hiking.

The book goes through the journey of not just what the girls had done but also why.  Why did they choose to make drugs the solution?  Why do they turn to sex to feel in control?  How do they interact with each other knowing that the girl next to them has a “Thing”?  It shows the complications of emotions and the delicate friendships that form.

One scene in particular that I liked, was parents day.  The author did a great job showing the first day and how tentative the girls were with their parents and how the feelings were returned; the hope of mending and change was palpable.  When the second day rolled around the line the author uses to describe it was great.

It was as though everyone had dreamed about each painful conversation, each thrown glass, each slammed door, and had woken up with those memories sharp and jagged in their minds.

Just reading that line gives you the sensation that the atmosphere between parents and daughters has changed…drastically.  That’s how a lot of the writing is in the book.  It shows you the surface scars each girl carries and then delves into the reasons and histories of the girl to show what they are doing to themselves and others.

I only gave it 3 stars on Goodreads.  This isn’t a book that I loved or really, really liked.  It was a heavy topic and these topics are not my “cup of tea” to read.  It’s real and gritty and sad sometimes.  The writing is done really well and the characters are all great (even with their flaws).



3 responses to “The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin

  1. I hate to laugh at a serious book, but what in the world does “his forehead resembles a children’s science museum exhibit” even mean? Oh, I have a feeling this book would make me laugh at inappropriate times…

  2. in my opinion the book was pretty good, but the beginning was kind of slow until the climax. im more into books that capture you more from the beginning. 🙂

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