The Girl in Between by Sarah Carroll

The Girl in Between

Sarah Carroll

The Girl in Between explores themes of loneliness and grief with effortless warmth and an unforgettable voice that will stick with you long after you've finished.

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"A deeply moving story of family, homelessness, and the ghosts that won't let us go. Haunting and unforgettable."—Megan Shepherd, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

Told in the naïve voice of a homeless girl sheltered by her mother from the world, this is a moving debut perfect for fans of David Almond, A Monster Calls, and Room.

I'm invisible. Ma says I'm supposed to be so the Authorities don't get me. She goes out into the streets almost every day but I'm not allowed. I've got to stay inside the mill so they don't see me. 

In an old, abandoned mill, a girl and her ma take shelter from their memories of life on the streets, and watch the busy world go by. The girl calls it the Castle because it's the biggest place they've ever stayed, a home of her own like no other. The windows are boarded up and the floorboards are falling in, but for her neither of those things matter.

Then developers show up, and it's clear that their lives are about to change forever. Desperate to save their refuge from the Authorities and her mother from her own personal demons, the girl seeks out the ghosts of the mill. And with only Caretaker—the old man who's slept outside the mill for decades—around to answer her questions, she begins to wonder what kind of ghosts are haunting both the mill and her mother.

The Girl in Between is a compelling, witty, and at times heartbreaking novel that explores themes of loneliness and grief with effortless warmth and an unforgettable voice that will stick with you long after you've finished.

Advance Galley Reviews

A beautiful story about the relationship between daughter and mother. But it’s not the typical story. Both are homeless, living in an old abandoned mill. But there is some tension to the relationship as the mother, who falls into the darkness of alcohol and drugs. What’s powerful about the novel is that nothing is explicit but the danger is still there. What also works so powerfully is the way that novel functions, going back and forth between the past and the present. The reason it works so well is because the author separates the structure of the past and the present but ties the past to the present by exploring the past as it connects to something specific in the present. The anxiety is there, the tension is there and emotional resonance that connects to the character and her relationship with her mother. That structure works so well because it focuses the reader’s attention to the story and the events. There is nothing lost, nothing to confuse the reader and the past is given just as much attention as the present is, helping the story be cohesive. Those elements of the past highlight’s the narrators naïve understanding of the world but they also highlight the dangers for her. The reader understands her danger better than she does, and that works to create tension and empathy for the narrator. There’s so much going on that the innocence doesn’t quite understand but that the reader does. And that works so well to grab the reader’s attention. It’s not even that the narrator’s mom is a bad mom, she’s lost, but her loss isn’t helping her daughter, in fact, it’s putting her in such terrible danger. This is a remarkable debut novel because it touches on homelessness, it touches on the bonds between mother and daughter, how they can sometimes be damaging, no matter the love that there is. There are always wrong ways to love, selfish ways to love, and that concept is expressed so beautifully here. It’s a haunting novel because of that, because of the past and how it can haunt and damage someone, how it can hurt a person’s heart and soul. Personally, I loved that because that only made it more engaging to read. There is also the fact that this novel is not without its twists. The biggest one being at the end and so heartbreaking. But it was magnificently structured, with allusions and hints to how the story might end, how it would end. Yet it still takes the reader by surprise, grasping at those heart strings. For a debut novel, it’s powerfully written with masterfully told.

This was a very sad book. A girl and her mother are homeless and move around a lot. They squat in abandoned buildings and sleep on beaches. The mother is an alcoholic and a druggie and possibly has mental issues. The girl makes up things to keep herself company and stays innocent of the dire situation they're actually in.

It expired before I could finish because i'm stuck in a horrible reading slump, but what i read, i liked.

Hard. So hard. This book is emotionally charged for both the people in it and the reader. While it draws comparisons to Room by Emma Donoghue, it stands so uniquely on its own. From the first look at this book, the cover, I felt a connection with the girl. Mostly because I also drew on the all of my bedroom at a young age, and it was also a castle. Our circumstances for doing so are incredibly different, but at the same time, the parallel was a bit uncomfortable. Especially whereas I kept drawing and covering it up with posters so that no one could see, until the picture was so large it couldn't be contained. But that's another story entirely. The Girl In Between is told in first person perspective, which is one of my favorite POVs as it lends to gaining great depth and a narrow view of the world. Which especially highlights the isolation or exuberance of the character, and amplifies their emotions like no other POV can do. And for a novel like this... one so heartbreaking and gritty... it can leave you feeling unprepared at any given moment. It's also a little eerie as the girl is young and witnessing the "Authorities" and ghosts while she is trying to help her mother and preserve her sense of home. Ultimately this was a haunting tale, though at times a bit predictable. Nevertheless, I feel like fans of Room will find a new favorite in The Girl in Between.

So, I finished this story in one day. It was a very fast-paced read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, it was a little predictable once I got to that halfway point in the story. I must admit, that even though I knew what was coming, I still got a little teary eyed at the end. 3.5 stars only because I wish it hadn't been so predictable, but otherwise I loved the writing style and was pleasantly surprised that I didn't hate it being in first person!

Life is good when the girl lives with her grandmother, but Ma wants them to move out. They don't have any money and they have nowhere to go. The girl and her mother end up on the streets until they move into an old mill they call The Castle. Ma forgets to feed the girl, she takes her daughter to scary places she doesn't want to be and the girl doesn't go to school. Ma has told the girl to stay away from the Authorities, they're after her and want to take her with them, while leaving Ma behind. Every time they arrive the girl hides, so the Authorities won't find her. The girl made her mother promise something, but Ma isn't sticking to it. Life at the mill is lonely and the girl only has one friend. The mill might be haunted and the girl is afraid, but she's built herself a safe house, she'll be fine, won't she? The Girl in Between is an original and impressive story. The girl is being taken away from the home she loves by a mother who can't take care of them. Life on the streets isn't easy and the girl is glad when they find the mill. They at least have a roof over their heads. My heart ached for her because of the unfairness of her situation. Her mother makes wrong decision after wrong decision, but the girl keeps loving her unconditionally. She wants to go back to her grandmother, but her mother doesn't put her daughter's needs first, which is such a sad situation. I liked the ghost aspect of the story, which gives it even more layers of depth. The mill is supposed to be haunted and the girl is trying to lure the ghost. I was fascinated by the way she tries to discover more about the mill's history. Something must have happened there and finding out more about it kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the way Sarah Carroll plays with tension, she's keeping tight control and her timing is perfect, which makes her story incredibly strong. The Girl in Between is hauntingly beautiful and I loved every single page. Sarah Carroll writes about a girl without a proper childhood, friends her own age and a school she can go to. The girl doesn't have much in her life, but because of her optimistic personality she keeps trying to find ways to keep herself busy. She's being neglected and Sarah Carroll writes about that in a raw and honest way from the point of view of the child, which made it extra moving. The story is filled with unexpected twists and turns and I loved how I was being surprised over and over again. The ending is absolutely brilliant and made me cry. The Girl in Between is a unique story and Sarah Carroll's amazing writing makes it come to life incredibly well. I loved this brilliant book and think it's a definite must-read.

This was a very interesting read and even now, weeks after finishing it, I am finding a hard time collecting my thoughts. It took awhile to get into this book. Not only is the story a bit slow at first, but the writing style is a bit different. We occasionally get flashbacks immersed in the present and it takes some getting used to. Once I got used to it, I was deeply invested in the story. The story is terribly sad and it hurt my heart seeing her living lie this, especially since she is happy with this life and expects them to go back to Grandma soon. Part of what also invested me was to see how things connected together. The flashbacks go in sequential order, with the present story in between, so I was flipping through the pages to find out what made them live in the mill and I really wanted to see her get a happy ending. One of the biggest factors of this book, though, was the ending. I did not expect that ending! Maybe I should have. There was a moment when I guessed something similar, but I did not guess correctly. I am torn about this book because of the twist. It's a great twist, but some things don't completely add up. Maybe if I reread the book it might make more sense, but I feel like there are a few things that aren't really clarified, so while the twist was interesting and surprising, it made me confused. Overall, I did like this book. Though, like is a weird description for how this book made me feel. This book hurt my heart and surprised the heck out of me, whilst making me deeply invested in the storyline. This is a really sad book, of course, so if you want a sad realistic story, with a twist, pick this one up. I think I will be picking up future books by this author.

This book is very sad. A girl and her mother are homeless and the mother struggles with addiction. The girl dreams of castles and princesses and going back to her Gran's house. She worries about everything she says to her mother because it could make her mother stressed enough to go out for beer or drugs. Absolutely heartbreaking and the ending made me cry.

I wanted to LOVE this book, but it was a bit slow for me. I felt like it was also a bit confusing throughout, but I think it's because it didn't hold my attention until about the middle. I can't say that I loved it or hated it. I'm somewhere in the middle on this one. I would say if you are reading the synopsis and think you'll like it, you probably will. It's a realistic take on addiction and life on the streets. I didn't see the ending coming. The book is a bit sad as well. Again, I'm in the middle on this one.

A haunting version of the book "Room". A story told from the Daughter's point of view. A tale of an alcoholic Mother's struggles to "get it together" on the streets for her Daughter. A Daughter's obsession with staying unseen from the public. Danger of being "evicted" from the abandoned Mill where they reside. And a deep, dark secret that will throw you for a loop!

I felt sad for this young girl throughout the story. She seemed always worried about either her mother (not returning or being drunk) or the authorities catching up with her. Not that every book is happy or has a happy ending...but to me this book was filled with nothing but worrying and fear. Not sure I would feel comfortable recommending it to the age group it is geared toward.

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to get this one finished before the expiration. It sounds interesting in premise. Will look for it in the future!

I see what the author wanted to do but the execution did not work.

I made it 100 pages in and unfortunately could not finish. This book didn't grab my attention or keep me interested. I don't usually not finish books, so I'm thinking this one just wasn't for me.

I didn't really enjoy this book, although it was well written and has paranormal elements, the ending left me with more questions then answers. The novel has a sad, realistic quality to it. being homeless, being an addict and seen through the eyes of young girl who truly does not deserve to live this life, because of her mother. The book will stay with you for awhile after you finish it.

The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll is the kind of story that stays with you. The young main character and the protective emotions the writing elicits; the fact that it takes on the very serious issue of being homeless; the fact that the book stresses the universality of this story by not naming its characters; and the fact of a seemingly abrupt ending are all reminders of a harsh reality and the makings of a memorable book. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

I really enjoyed this book told entirely by a young girl who is homeless with her Mother. After many nights on the street, they finally find their "castle", an old abandoned mill that sits next to a dirty river. It's a sad tale of homelessness and the demons of the past catching up. I really would have given 5 stars had their been more explanation about certain events. I felt I was left hanging and for that I dropped a star. A solid read of a little girl and her Mom. Will definitely recommend! 4 solid stars!!! Thank you to First to Read for a review copy.

Definitely a paranormal feel with this one. I don't want to give anything away though. It was good, it kept me interested. I love the story and the way it's told. I'm not a fan of the ending because I'm still left with questions but I'm guessing it's supposed to make you think. Definitely give it a read as I did really enjoy it. :)

I didn't love this one. But I didn't love the Sixth Sense either, so...

I wish The Girl in Between had a different title because I wanted to hold on to the mystery just a bit longer. The melancholy and wistfulness this girl feels is palpable. The longing to be those other school girls; the wanting to be involved in the lives of the shorter man and the taller lady; the nothingness felt by the woman and the girl in the glass house; desiring a stronger relationship with her Ma and grandmother. It makes sense why the girl seeks out the Caretaker and his ghosts for her answers. That her Ma spends what little is left of her life "drowning" her misery in alcohol and drugs makes sense once you hear the whole story. This is a hard topic to cover, and yet the author manages to make it feel real. That this little girl has to fight for her life - and then afterlife - is too sad to forget. At least the ending is bittersweet.

Although I wasn't a huge fan of this book, it really stuck with me for a long time after I finished reading it. The writing style emphasized the narrator's innocence, which makes the whole story more heartbreaking. The story jumps back and forth between their lives before and after they came to the castle. This book deals with some very tough topics like homelessness, addiction, and loss, but the ending left me with some hope for their futures, even with that twist.

This book is sad in so many different ways. It shines a spotlight on addiction, parenting on the streets, the relationship between a mother and daughter and how drugs can make someone selfish. No child should live on the streets. I kind of suspected the ending but not until I had about 40 pages to read. Definitely recommend this book. It was such a good story.

It reads like no other short story you've ever read in a full length novel. A heartbreaking, tragic viewpoint of homelessness, addiction, and alcoholism from a young girl. It's imaginative, 6th sense-ish and soul shattering in less than 300 pages. This one will stay with me for a long time.

I have mixed feelings on one hand. I definitely got some "Room" vibes as I started, but the book took a lot more time to get into. Once I got to the twist, I blazed through the end of it. (Kudos to Sarah Carroll; I didn't see that twist happening at all.) Now knowing the twist, this is a book I could see myself reading again to analyze, but at the end of the day, I don't think this is one I'd pick up again. Interesting concept, but it moved too slowly for me and seemed to jump all over the place with the narrative. .

From the beginning, this book reminded me of Room by Emma Donoghue - most likely because the story is told through the voice of a child. It was a great story that wove in and out of the not so distant past and the present. It is the story of a mother and daughter, who love each other fiercely even through dysfunction, addiction, poor choices and ultimately, heartbreak. It is a quick, easy read but one that stays with you even after you've read the last sentence. 4.5 stars.

So many emotions. I personally know people who are like Ma in this story and it tore me up so badly watching her continue to drink, make mistakes and put her daughter in danger repeatedly and the situation with the Monkey Man just made me so mad. She couldn't get her to stop, yet couldn't leave her either, because she's just a kid. I also appreciated the naiveté of the narration, because a girl who hasn't continuously had normal education or experiences wouldn't know that the Authorities would be there to help her. Any book that can make me feel such strong emotions deserves a great rating. I got a whiff of the twist super early on, but kept thinking maybe I'm supposed to think that and there will be an opposite twist at the end. Even though my original thought ended up being correct, I still enjoyed the ride of going back and forth in my mind about it.

This book is a touching story about being haunted by your past. Our narrator is homeless with her alcoholic mother and she is not allowed to go into public. Her innocent take on normal people she watched from the roof of her castle was heartwarming and a enlightening look on how we never notice something unless it fits in with what we want our daily life to consist of. I wish we could have gotten more insight about the conflict between Gran and Ma, but other than that I thought the narration was great. I really enjoyed the emotion portrayed in the scenes that addressed the mother's drinking problem. The scene where she tried to defend the church seemed a bit cliche to me and the end was a bit all over the place. Overall I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars. Would recommend to those who are looking for a quick and moving read about a mother-daughter relationship during a tough situation.

Wow. That ending was not what I expected at all. This story started off slow, but once I got about halfway things started picking up. I had no idea I would be so surprised with the ending. I was a little confused as to what was going on throughout, but the conclusion clears up all that confusion. All I have to say is don't let the slow start put you off from finishing this book. The ending makes this book worth reading from beginning to end.

I really couldn't get into this story. The story line didn't really interest me and it was hard to tell when this took place. The author needed to build up the world more and more back story was needed. I didn't even make it through the entire book. It was a slow and boring read.

I'm about 100 pages in and this isn't really grabbing my attention. The writing is kind of simple and the MCs thoughts are kind of all over the place. Not sure this one is for me.

This was a good quick read. It shows a girl and her mother that live lives on the street. The girl goes through so much due to her mother's drug use and drinking. The plot twists towards the end and shows that the girl was not there. I would have liked to have seen more expansion on this and was disappointed that the twist fell flat.

I did enjoy reading The Girl in Between, but I noticed that I would have to put it down and then I wouldn't want to pick it back up, not because the story was bad or anything, but because I couldn't stand the mother in it. That's obviously personal preference, and has no reflection on the story itself. I did like the story, but I would've liked to understand the mother's motivation for leaving Gran's and taking the girl with her. The ending was also kind of confusing for me, and I've noticed in other reviews that other people are confused as well. The overarching message of the end is a good one, just the way it was written is kind of confusing. I understand that it was written that way on purpose and I suppose it is up to the reader to interpret it themselves. Having said all this, I did enjoy the book, enough, but honestly would probably never reread it, so I would give it 3 stars.

In general it is a good book. Personally I like more action but it is very good for its genre. It had a deep story and a meaningful plot. I think the author, Sarah Carroll, did a great job of describing and making the readers feel for the situations the mother and daughter went through.

A good quick read! Very thought provoking and heartwrenching tale! I didn't suspect the ending at all. My heart hurt for the little girl and everything she was going through and being put through.

I enjoyed this story, but there was something disconcerting. The story was obviously set in Ireland, but some of the writing was changed to make it seem a bit more American. So the narrative would be going along fine, but then a phrase would be said that didn't fit the story at all. So aside from that, it was a well written story about a mother trying to protect her daughter from horrors seen an unseen. This story would be a great addition to other ones read during the Christmas season.

The Girl in Between is a deep and thought provoking tale about a young girl and her mother. Amazon suggests it as a good read for teens, which is probably accurate. I can see my old high school book club picking this as their monthly read. I also think an older audience would possibly find it enjoyable as well. The story explores the concepts of loneliness and the permanence of memories. I found myself being inexplicably drawn to this book – even though this is normally not the sort of thing I read. I just couldn't put it down. Spoiler Warning The Girl in Between revolves around a little girl and her mother. They are squatting in an old run down mill, which the little girl considers her castle. Despite everything she has gone through and seen, she's still so innocent and naive, it's quite endearing to see. It didn't occur to me until I was writing this review, but the author never actually names the girl or her mother. It's extra food for thought considering the implications at the end. The lack of names does add to the plot, without taking anything away. About halfway through I started getting a bad feeling that there was something wrong, something that either wasn't being shown or something I was missing. It adds a subtle but very real extra layer of intensity that I really enjoyed. My gut was correct, but not in the way I was even remotely expecting or prepared for. (I'm not going to say how, for the sake of those that want to read it). There is quite a bit of repetition throughout the novel, and while it isn't necessarily annoying, I'm not sure it adds anything to the plot either. There's also some time hopping back and forth, where we'll go from the present to the past for a chapter, and then back again. These events are clearly delineated, though at a couple times they left me anxious to see what happens next (in either continuity). Despite these complaints, I found it hard to put the book down, and ended up finishing it over the weekend. On the whole I'm giving this a three and a half star rating, because while there were some flaws, the overall concept was well thought out and oddly spellbinding.

Homes offer a sense of identity, particularly for those in their formative years. Sarah Carroll's The Girl In Between depicts life on the street and on the move for a young girl and her mother from the eyes of the young girl. Within the walls of her Castle, a young girl can dream of the fairy tale life she wants instead of the harsh reality of homelessness she faces every day. While she has free reign over the Castle, she must be vigilant to remain invisible from the outside world or risk being taken away from her mother by the Authorities. With Authority representatives in yellow vests coming around her Castle to evaluate it, the girl fears that her home may be taken away from her or she from it, which would greatly change her life. In learning about the Castle's history as a mill from a fellow squatter, called the Caretaker, who is struggling against his past and grief to leave the mill after forty-seven years, the girl realizes that her mother also needs to face what's haunting her in order to keep moving forward. A quick read that presents the realities of the world through the lens of a young girl offering a new perspective from which to consider the unfortunate issue of homelessness that plagues society. While the perspective of and experience with homelessness from the vantage point of young girl was quite intriguing and interesting as it was written in a manner that was captivating and using language that befits the narrator, the narrative was ultimately rather confusing, perhaps because it lacked an appreciable plot. With the minimal plot present, the "twist" at the end of the story, while a key point of the narrative, wasn't as poignant as it could have been had a plot been reasonably developed. Overall, I'd give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

This novel drew me in immediately, and left me feeling sometimes heartbroken, sometimes hopeful. I felt it a bit reminsicent of Shirley's Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. There is an undulating creepiness and feeling of paranormal underlaying this story. This novel is narrated by a young girl, who's mother is obviously troubled, facing addiction and homelessness. She is led to believe that the "Authorities" are going to seize her from her mother and current life, so the girl lives in a state of high alertness, fear, and isolation. The plot twist at the end, I didn't expect, but without giving too much away, there is something very not right with this mother-daughter relationship. Would recommend as paranormal young adult.

This is a powerful story. It shows you how the past can haunt you. I really enjoyed this book. I think this story has a powerful message. It really makes you think. It also reminds you that you never know what people are going through. This book definitely kept me intrigued. I couldn't stop reading. I had to keep reading to find out more. I would definitely recommend this book.


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