REVIEW The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin

The Girls of No Return
by Erin Saldin
February 1, 2012
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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.

I'm not really sure where to start. It was a good book to be sure, but it was a lot heavier that I was really prepared for when I picked it up. When I picked it up, I was expecting something more lighthearted, and with a lot more focus on surviving in the wilderness. This book is more about surviving in yourself.

The Girls of No Return follows Lida as she recounts her months at Alica Marshall, a wilderness-driven school in the middle of nowhere that's geared towards troubled teenage girls. It's told in flashbacks from the "epilogue", which was scattered throughout the book and it follows Lida's life at Alice Marshall in sequence, from her grim arrival to her startling departure.

This book was more character-driven than I was expecting, and I was left wondering what was going to happen next, because, though there were a bunch of interesting events that occurred during Lida's stay, they didn't seem to be leading up to anything for most of the book. But maybe that was the point. The seemingly innocuous or slightly annoying events in our life don't always seem like they're leading up to something, until that final something happens. (No, I'm not going to spoil it for you.)

Boone, the "bad girl" at Alice Marshall was probably my favourite character of them all. She's strong where Lida was often weak, and, while she seemed to annoy Lida from time to time, I didn't find her nearly as annoying as I did Gia, the new girl that Lida becomes infatuated with.  With Boone, I found that Lida really had a chance to focus on herself, while when she was with Gia, all she could think about was her.

The Girls of No Return was a good read, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

Happy Reading Everyone!