Review: The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale, by Jess Rae

Trigger warning: this review discusses a book that contains themes of abusive relationships, drug-abuse, and sexual assault.

WARNING: This is the kind of book that requires a comfy couch, a good hot beverage and maybe some snacks too because once this book gets going you’re not going to want to stop.
I saw this book pop up on one of Dymocks’ events and while I couldn’t attend the author talk for it I was intrigued by the overall concept. I’m a sucker for love stories gone wrong; call me a cynic. So while perusing the stocked-up shelves of my local Dymocks I came across The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale and I said to myself “oh that’s that book I wanted to read!” And better yet I was able to snag a signed copy, and so here we are loyal readers at this review.
I will admit that at first reading this book I was not sold, although I was waiting to go in for a job interview so perhaps my mind wasn’t quite in the right place for this kind of book. However, I stuck with it and I’m ever so glad I did. The Sunday Girl centers on Taylor Bishop, a quintessential good girl, who is very unlucky in love. We’re talking abusive-drug-addict-boyfriend-cheats-and-posts-a-sex-tape-of-her unlucky; and so these events spark a dangerous domino effect of retribution. This book is truly a nail-biter, and I will say on more than one occasion I had to stop myself from yelling “get out!” while I read.
The Sunday Girl focuses on themes of revenge, betrayal and domestic violence. I will note that a trigger warning is required regarding the domestic violence, drug abuse and sexual assault in this book, so do keep that in mind before purchasing or reading it. It is also a thriller and so these themes aren’t dealt with delicately; they’re used to heighten tension and drive the plot. These themes aren’t triggers for me and so I was perfectly fine reading this book, even if I was practically chewing my fingernails off. In saying that I’m in two minds about giving voice to these sorts of themes; on one hand I think it’s important to have the conversation about abuse and drug addiction as these subjects have been ignored for too long and so to have books coming out that talk about the different forms and effects of abuse/drug addiction is significant to the wider public. On the other hand, there was no indication of abuse or drug addiction being featured in this book and so I am concerned for unsuspecting readers who may potentially be triggered.
What I will say is when it comes to female revenge stories I do prefer a more cunning female protagonist, i.e. Gone Girl. Taylor, while smart and definitely angry enough, is more just lucky than anything, and this does help the suspense factor. Though I do like my female protagonists to have a bit more gumption, Taylor’s lack-of truly played in to one of the book’s key themes: the many difficulties in leaving an abusive relationship. Drysdale writes a very intense plot that had me at the edge of my seat. Without spoiling anything I would also say that I found the ending to be realistic, in that sometimes I find the character’s feelings at the ending of a psychological thriller to be a bit unbelievable. But despite Taylor’s lack of gumption, she was a very believable character, particularly given her final reflections on the events that transpired.
I’m excited to see what Drysdale writes next and frankly you should be too.

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