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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Don't Forget The Girl


Narrator: Jennifer O'Donnell

ISBN: 9798889562405

Publisher: RB Media, Recorded Books

Sourcebooks Landmark

Publication Date: 06/20/2023

Format: Audio & e-book

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)


We never remember the dead girls. We never forget the killers.


Twelve years ago, 18-year-old University of Iowa freshman Abby Hartmann disappeared. Now, Jon Allan Blue, the serial killer suspected of her murder, is about to be executed. Abby’s best friends, Bree and Chelsea, watch as Abby’s memory is unearthed and overshadowed by Blue and his flashier crimes. The friends, estranged in the wake of Abby’s disappearance, and suffering from years of unvoiced resentments, must reunite when a high-profile podcast dedicates its next season to Blue’s murders.


Tense and introspective, Don’t Forget the Girl examines friends and the secrets between them that might have gone to the grave.


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My Review


Rebecca McKanna's captivating debut, DON'T FORGET THE GIRL, is perfect for June's LGBT Pride Month!


Secrets, friendships, grief, sexuality, shaming, self-identity, loss, love, betrayal, forgiveness, and grief are some topics in this emotional and lyrical new novel.


In 2003, 18 yr old Abby Hartmann went missing on Halloween night after an argument with her best friends, Bree and Chelsea.


Her body had not been found but suspected Abby was another victim of the serial killer, Jon Allen Blue. In the present, he is soon to be executed and still has not confessed to killing Abby.


Bree (professor) and Chelsea (priest) have been estranged for years, struggling with their grief and reuniting to find answers.


What happened the night Abby went missing? The author slowly unravels the events leading up to the night Abby went missing in dual timelines.


Abby was in a secret relationship but could not come out to her parents. Her partner was pressuring her, but she knew her parents would not understand.


You are unsure where the author is going with the story; however, she keeps you in suspense while you are reading (listening into the wee hours of the morning).


A character-driven, heartbreaking, emotional, and moving story that focuses on the three girls' friendship, their demons, guilt, resentments, and their relationship with Abby—the fallout after she was taken and how the trauma has shaped their lives and those connected to her.


The podcast with podcaster Rachel adds to the overall story dedicating its season to Blu's murders and the personal relationships with the victim and the parents. There is also a bestselling book by the detective. The news, podcast interviews, and interview transcripts are blended within the chapters.


Told in alternating POV, Bree and Chelsea’s narratives are in the third person in the present, while Abby speaks in the second person in the past—a little confusing while listening to the audio version.


The author expertly explores how society and media embellish serial killers but often forgets about the victims and those connected to the lost ones.


DON'T FORGET THE GIRL is for fans of Megan Goldin, Laura Lippman, and Heather Gudenkauf and those who enjoy true crime. Ideal for book clubs. I am looking forward to reading more from this talented author.


I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jennifer O'Donnell for an engrossing performance, listening experience, and the e-book.


Thanks to #RBMedia #RecordedBooks for a gifted ALC and #SourcebooksLandmark for an ARC via #NetGalley for review purposes.


@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: June 20, 2023

My Rating: 4 Stars




Praise


"A heartbreaking story of female friendship, first love, and betrayal, Rebecca McKanna explodes onto the thriller scene with her debut, Don't Forget the Girl. Absolutely phenomenal!"

― Julie Clark, New York Times bestselling author of The Lies I Tell and The Last Flight


"Absorbing and unforgettable, Don’t Forget the Girl is an extraordinary debut fueled by complex rifts and haunting regrets. In McKanna's deft hands, love and trauma are two ends of an equally weighted cudgel, always looming, hungry to do its work."

― Katie Lattari, author of Dark Things I Adore


"Rebecca McKanna has made a thorough study of the true crime zeitgeist: she knows our hunger for gory details, our ghoulish speculation; she knows all the tropes of podcasts and Netflix shows. In her smart, layered debut, she takes all this and asks us: But what of the bereaved? What do they hold to when the world makes a spectacle of their loss, turning the flawed, complex, funny person they loved into a scary show to binge? The result is a page-turner that’s also a fresh story of forgiveness, memory, and hope. McKanna shows us past the sensationalization of the brutal and untimely death of a pretty girl to something deeper: a love story between three friends."

― Kelsey Ronan, author of Chevy in the Hole, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice


"Be ready to be wowed by McKanna’s deft hand, which holds a mirror up to a society that glamorizes the killer but too often forgets about the girl who was lost and the people who loved her. Fans of Gillian Flynn and Laura Lippman will love this haunting and heartbreaking literary thriller."

― Natalie Lund, author of We Speak in Storms


"Don’t Forget the Girl is a moving and suspenseful exploration of friendship, identity, and the reverberations of violence. An unforgettable debut."

― Beth Nguyen, author of Owner of a Lonely Heart


"McKanna punctuates the ‘girl’ thriller phenomenon and punctures our societal fascination with true crime with a page-turner that gives voice to the victim. A talented new voice in crime fiction." ― Lori Rader-Day, award-winning author of The Lucky One


"Don’t Forget the Girl has everything you’d want in a genuine literary thriller: clear and beautiful writing, complicated and nuanced characters, clever and unexpected turns in form and plot, and a ripped-from-the-headlines story at the core that makes you slow down and race ahead all at once, forward to a murderer’s execution and backward to his unthinkable acts and their devastating shock waves. Rebecca McKanna has written a vivid, propulsive, sensational debut that’s both an indictment of our violent and toxic culture and a celebration of women and survivors and the essential role of collective memory in bringing about change."

― Porter Shreve, author of The End of the Book and The Obituary Writer


"This is the kind of book I crave. It’s an insightful, courageous exploration of friendship, sexuality, reputation, and self-deceit… AND it’s a mystery novel I could not put down. Rebecca McKanna has written a nearly perfect subversion of the true crime genre… I cannot wait to press Don’t Forget the Girl into the hands of all my friends."

― Kate Reed Petty, author of True Story







About the Author


Photo by Josh Saltsman


Rebecca McKanna was born and raised in Iowa. Her debut novel, Don’t Forget the Girl, will be published by Sourcebooks Landmark in June 2023. The book’s TV/film rights have been optioned by HeyDay Films.


Her short stories have been anthologized in The Best American Mystery Stories 2019 and recognized as distinguished in The Best American Short Stories 2019. She has been published in Colorado Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Third Coast, Joyland, and as one of Narrative's Stories of the Week, among other publications. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Indianapolis. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and a mini-schnauzer named Hans Gruber. WEBSITE

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