‘The Last Carolina Girl’ by Meagan Church is about a young girl in her early teens that lives with her father in a small coastal Carolina town. The story follows the main character, Leah, through a series of unhappy events that lands her in a completely different town, living with a new family. What starts as an opportunity to start over quickly becomes a nightmare as she realizes she is not part of this new family and the mother seems to have it out for her. Leah struggles with episodes of mental instability where she zones out completely, as she tries desperately to please Mrs Graham and bond with her new family. While Leah battles with her new life she also longs for a friend from her past and eventually risks everything to try and get back to him. Things don’t exactly pan out for Leah as Mrs Graham has secret plans for her and takes her to see a Eugenics doctor under the pretense of having appendicitis. This part becomes confusing as the reasons for this are never truly explained. Eventually Leah overhears some very disturbing news about her appointment with the eugenics doctor and decides to finally lash out at Mrs Graham to get some answers. Unfortunately, they are not what she expects to hear.
I gave this book 1 star because I was left with SO MANY questions. SPOILER ALERT: What was the point of the eugenics story line? For what reason did they sterilize her? Why didn’t she reconnect with the children of the family after she got away? Why didn’t the barnums just let her stay in the first place? She spent so much time pining for Jessie but then there was no real story about their life together. What was the significance of the spells she had and what ever resulted from them? Why isn’t there more behind the Grahams being her family and why the Mrs hated her so much. Her being mad cuz Leah’s parents were happy together doesn’t really add up to the level of violence directed towards her. END SPOILERS. There are just too many loose ends left unexplained for me to be able to enjoy the story which didn’t really have any “meat and potatoes”, if you will. It was hard to feel much of anything for the characters because there was never any depth built up for any of them other than Leah, who never REALLY stood up for herself and didnt show much growth as a character. I was left wanting more.
I consumed this via audiobook through Netgalley and have a few issues with the audio as presented. The narration was unusually slow and when sped up to a reasonable speed, it would skip large portions of the story. When listened to at normal speeds the audio still skipped throughout the first 3 chapters. There are insanely long pauses between each chapter and the Audio even stops before some of them. The app was not consistent with the verbiage of chapters throughout the book as well as the chapters not being synced between the audio and the app itself. When on ‘Chapter 10’, for example, the app would state ‘Section 11’ There was a 1 second lag between the left and right headphones. (this was tested on a separate app to ensure it was not just a headphone malfunction)
All things considered, I do not recommend this one. There isn’t anything about it I enjoyed other than the narrator’s accent. Thank you to Netgalley and RB Media for allowing me to review this title. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to working with them again in the future.