The Good Girl by Mary Kubica ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: thriller, kidnapping, family secrets, love
Format read: Finished copy sent to me by the Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: Mia, a school teacher, disappears one night in a bar. In a series of flashbacks from the perspectives of some of the most important people in her life, readers experience the kidnapping, the search to find her, and the aftermath.
First things first, The Good Girl has been compared to Gone Girl a ton. I haven’t read Gone Girl yet so I can’t supply a comparison. But let me say this… on its own, The Good Girl may be a labeled as a thriller but it’s possibly one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve read all year.
In a very sneaky, I can’t believe I’m falling for this type of way.
Debut writer Mary Kubica challenges her readers to believe the unbelievable in this scary tale of a young teacher who goes missing from a bar. Her captor, actually assigned to deliver her to someone else, “saves” her from what was promised to be a terrible fate and hides her away in a cabin. I know what you are thinking. Does this mean her captor has a conscience of some kind? How benevolent is this move really if she is still technically stolen?
I was seesawing between these two questions (and many more) as I read deeper into the story. In addition to the perspective of the kidnapper, we also meet Mia’s mom, heartbroken over her daughter and the way she has handled motherhood. It’s obvious that a dire situation like this is going to change many people, but Kubica did a fantastic job of pacing how the characters evolved and moved forward since Mia’s kidnapping. Continually, I would go back and forth, sympathizing with some characters and really disliking them. It was that kind of story: everyone’s flaws are on display.
If you are looking for a book to keep you planted in one place and totally test how you feel about everything, The Good Girl is your answer. Kubica has created a well-written and engrossing story, full of twists and turns not only limited to action-packed scenes but emotional ones too.
A chat with Mary Kubica!
First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Mary! I thought The Good Girl was fantastic and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with others! Now that it’s been a few weeks since the release, how are you feeling? Is it still unbelievable to see your debut out in stores?
Thank you for having me! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being a guest here at Rather Be Reading, and thanks so much for your kind words about The Good Girl.
Yes, it is still unbelievable to see my book at stores! I’m not entirely sure if or when I’ll stop being surprised to see the image of Mia on store displays – or my name on the cover of a book for that matter. It’s been such a thrill. There was such a great build up for The Good Girl’s release, and so much time spent waiting and wondering what would happen when my novel was finally shared with the world – and then suddenly it was off and running, and between a small bookstore tour and other promotional activities, it’s been a whirlwind – in the very best sense of the word. It’s been so much fun. The best part is that I’m just finishing up my second novel and am looking forward to reliving the whole process all over again – though this time I’ll have a better idea of what to expect.
You’ve created a very calculated mystery in The Good Girl, what was the biggest challenge in keeping your reader on their toes but not giving away too much?
It takes a bit of work to set the stage for a big reveal that with both catch the reader off guard and seem entirely plausible to the reader once they’ve reached the end of the book. You don’t want to divulge too much that the reader sees the ending coming, and yet as an author, you need to lay the groundwork so that later on the reader can look back through the novel and connect the dots. This can be tricky, and certainly required a few rounds of edits while writing The Good Girl. But I was thrilled when it all finally came together.
I was shocked at how utterly heartbreaking this book was. I think we expect thrillers to be scary but there is also a lot loss in this book. But from the very beginning you know it’s going to be a very unconventional kind of story. What perspective was the hardest to write?
I would say Colin’s was the hardest character to write because he was the character I could relate to the least. He’s a rough man with a troublesome past, something I don’t have a lot of experience with. I definitely had to search outside of my comfort zone to find Colin, but once I did, his story became easier to write. For the same reasons, Mia’s mother Eve was the easiest to write because she was the character I found I had the most in common with.
One character who is surprisingly sticking with me is Mia’s sister. She was so dismissive and detached from Mia throughout the story. Did you start out with creating a fractured relationship between the two or was it something that developed over time?
Mia is portrayed as the black sheep of the Dennett family, and as such, she needed to have a fractured relationship with ever member of her family. Her sister, Grace, though a minor role, is certainly at odds with Mia. If Mia is the black sheep, then Grace is the pride and joy of the family. She is everything Mia is not, and everything Mia’s father wishes she could be. Their relationship was that way from the get go, though if anything I softened it ever so slightly while writing the novel to give Grace a bit of dimension.
I read in an interview that you were a huge fan of the Baby-Sitters Club when you were younger. Me too! Who is your favorite character and which of the baby-sitters do you think is most like Mia, your main character?
I loved the Baby-Sitters Club books! My sister and I actually formed our own babysitters club with a handful of neighborhood girls when I was younger, and passed out fliers around the neighborhood and earned ourselves quite a few babysitting gigs! It was great. I have to admit that I’ve forgotten many of the details of the books over the years, but I’m looking forward to the day my daughter is old enough that we can share them together. For the characters, I’d say that Mia is most like Claudia for her artsy, individualistic nature, and for myself I’d pick Kristy because growing up I was the one most likely to start my own club – also the one who could be a bit bossy at times when I didn’t get my way!
For a final fun question: which actors would you cast in a film version of The Good Girl? (Don’t forget Mia’s mom because, despite her flaws, I think she was my favorite character.)
I love this question and, trust me, it’s once I’ve considered many times! For James and Eve Dennett, Mia’s father and mother, I’d choose Victor Garber and Helen Mirren. These were, by far, the easiest to decide. For Gabe Hoffman, the lead detective on the case of the missing Mia Dennett, I’d choose Dylan McDermott, and for Mia’s abductor, Colin, either Jeremy Sisto or James Franco. And finally, for Mia herself, I’d cast Emma Watson or Jennifer Lawrence as the starring role in the film.
Thanks so much to Mary for the extra insight into her writing and The Good Girl! I can’t wait for your next book.
Bonus! The awesome, generous people at Harlequin have supplied us with a copy of The Good Girl for a lucky winner.
Go play! (Open to U.S. and Canadian residents!)