The instant #1 New York Times bestseller (January 2019) everyone is talking about!
People Magazine's Book of the Week • Bookish's "Must-Read Books of Winter" • PopSugar's "Best Books of Winter" • Cosmopolitan's "2019 Books to Bring to Your Book Club" • Bookbub's "Biggest Books of Winter" • Refinery 29's "Best Books of January 2019" • Crime Reads' "January's Best Psychological Thrillers" • InStyle's "7 Books That You Should Resolve to Read This January" • HelloGiggles' "The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2019" • USA Today's "5 New Books Not to Miss" • Marie Claire's "The Best Women’s Fiction of 2019 (So Far)" • Hypable's "Winter Releases You Can’t Afford to Miss"
"Hendricks and Pekkanen are at the top of their game...You won't see the final twist coming." People Magazine
“Beware strange psychologists…the authors know exactly how to play on their characters’ love of danger to bring them to the brink of disaster - and dare them to jump off.” New York Times Book Review
"Slickly twisty [with] gasp-worthy final twists...major league suspense." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"For those who relished the creepy stalking in Hendricks and Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us, this unnerving tale will have them rethinking what secrets are safe to share and if moral and ethics really matter when protecting the ones you love." Library Journal (starred review)
"Masterfully escalates the suspense." Booklist (starred review)
Looking to earn some easy cash, Jessica Farris agrees to be a test subject in a psychological study about ethics and morality. But as the study moves from the exam room to the real world, the line between what is real and what is one of Dr. Shields’s experiments blurs.
Dr. Shields seems to know what Jess is thinking… and what she’s hiding.
Jessica’s behavior will not only be monitored, but manipulated.
Caught in a web of attraction, deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.
From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, An Anonymous Girl will keep you riveted through the last shocking twist.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
GREER HENDRICKS is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Wife Between Us. Prior to becoming a novelist, she spent two decades as an editor at Simon & Schuster. She obtained her master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Allure, and Publishers Weekly. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
SARAH PEKKANEN is the internationally and USA Today bestselling author of eight previous solo novels and the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Wife Between Us. A former investigative journalist and award-winning feature writer, she has published work in The Washington Post, USA Today, and many others. She is the mother of three sons and lives just outside Washington, D.C.
Read an Excerpt
Friday, November 16
A lot of women want the world to see them a certain way. It's my job to create those transformations, one forty-five minute session at a time.
My clients seem different when I've finished helping them. They grow more confident, radiant. Happier, even.
But I can only offer a temporary fix. People invariably revert to their former selves.
True change requires more than the tools I wield.
* * *
It's twenty to six on a Friday evening. Rush hour. It's also when someone often wants to look like the best version of themselves, so I consistently block this time out of my personal schedule.
When the subway doors open at Astor Place, I'm the first one out, my right arm aching from the weight of my black makeup case as it always does by the end of a long day.
I swing my case directly behind me so it'll fit through the narrow passageway — it's my fifth trip through the turnstiles today alone, and my routine is automatic — then I hurry up the stairs.
When I reach the street, I dig into the pocket of my leather jacket and pull out my phone. I tap it to open my schedule, which is updated at least once a day by BeautyBuzz. I provide the hours I can work, and my appointments are texted to me.
My final booking today is near Eighth Street and University Place. It's for ninety minutes, which means it's a double — two clients. I have the address, names, and a contact phone number. But I have no idea who will be waiting for me when I knock on a door.
I don't fear strangers, though. I've learned more harm can come from familiar faces.
I memorize the exact location, then stride down the street, skirting the garbage that has spilled from a toppled bin. A shopkeeper pulls a security grate over his storefront, the loud metal rattling into place. A trio of students, backpacks slung over their shoulders, jostle each other playfully as I pass them.
I'm two blocks from my destination when my phone rings. Caller ID shows it's my mom.
I let it ring once as I stare at the little circular photo of my smiling mother.
I'll see her in five days, when I go home for Thanksgiving, I tell myself.
But I can't let it go.
Guilt is always the heaviest thing I carry.
"Hey, Mom. Everything okay?" I ask.
"Everything's fine, honey. Just checking in."
I can picture her in the kitchen in the suburban Philadelphia home where I grew up. She's stirring gravy on the stove — they eat early, and Friday's menu is always pot roast and mashed potatoes — then unscrewing the top on a bottle of Zinfandel in preparation for the single glass she indulges in on weekend nights.
There are yellow curtains dressing the small window above the sink, and a dish towel looped through the stove handle with the words Just roll with it superimposed over an image of a rolling pin. The flowered wallpaper is peeling at the seams and a dent marks the bottom of the fridge from where my father kicked it after the Eagles lost in the playoffs.
Dinner will be ready when my dad walks through the door from his job as an insurance salesman. My mother will greet him with a quick kiss. They will call my sister, Becky, to the table, and help her cut her meat.
"Becky zipped up her jacket this morning," my mother says. "Without any help."
Becky is twenty-two, six years younger than me.
"That's fantastic," I say.
Sometimes I wish I lived closer so I could help my parents. Other times, I'm ashamed at how grateful I am that I don't.
"Hey, can I call you back?" I continue. "I'm just running in to work."
"Oh, did you get hired for another show?"
I hesitate. Mom's voice is more animated now.
I can't tell her the truth, so I blurt out the words: "Yeah, it's just a little production. There probably won't even be much press about it. But the makeup is super elaborate, really unconventional."
"I'm really proud of you," my mom says. "I can't wait to hear all about it next week."
I feel like she wants to add something more, but even though I haven't quite reached my destination — a student housing complex at NYU — I end the call.
"Give Becky a kiss. I love you."
* * *
My rules for any job kick in even before I arrive.
I evaluate my clients the moment I see them — I notice eyebrows that would look better darkened, or a nose that needs shading to appear slimmer — but I know my customers are sizing me up, too.
The first rule: my unofficial uniform. I wear all black, which eliminates the need to coordinate a new outfit every morning. It also sends a message of subtle authority. I choose comfortable, machine-washable layers that will look as fresh at seven P.M. as they do at seven A.M.
Since personal space vanishes when you're doing someone's makeup, my nails are short and buffed, my breath is minty, and my curls are swept up in a low twist. I never deviate from this standard.
I rub Germ-X on my hands and pop an Altoid in my mouth before I ring the buzzer for Apartment 6D. I'm five minutes early. Another rule.
I take the elevator to the sixth floor, then follow the sound of loud music — Katy Perry's "Roar" — down the hallway and meet my clients. One is in a bathrobe, and the other wears a T-shirt and boxers. I can smell the evidence of their last beauty treatment — the chemicals used to highlight blond streaks into the hair of the girl named Mandy, and the nail varnish drying on the hands Taylor is waving through the air.
"Where are you going tonight?" I ask. A party will likely have stronger lighting than a club; a dinner date will require a subtle touch.
"Lit," Taylor says.
At my blank look, she adds: "It's in the Meatpacking District. Drake was just there last night."
"Cool," I say.
I wind through the items scattered across the floor — an umbrella, a crumpled gray sweater, a backpack — then move aside the Skinny Pop popcorn and half-empty cans of Red Bull on the low coffee table so I can set down my case. I unlatch it and the sides fold out like an accordion to reveal tray upon tray of makeup and brushes.
"What kind of look are we going for?"
Some makeup artists dive in, trying to cram as many clients as possible into a day. I take the extra time I've built into my schedule to ask a few questions. Just because one woman wants a smokey eye and a naked mouth doesn't mean another isn't envisioning a bold red lip and only a swipe of mascara. Investing in those early minutes saves me time on the backend.
But I also trust my instincts and observations. When these girls say they want a sexy, beachy look, I know they really want to resemble Gigi Hadid, who is on the cover of the magazine splayed across the love seat.
"So what are you majoring in?" I ask.
"Communications. We both want to go into PR." Mandy sounds bored, like I'm an annoying adult asking her what she wants to be when she grows up.
"Sounds interesting," I say as I pull a straight-back chair into the strongest light, directly under the ceiling fixture.
I start with Taylor. I have forty-five minutes to create the vision she wants to see in the mirror.
"You have amazing skin," I say. Another rule: Find a feature to compliment on every client. In Taylor's case, this isn't difficult.
"Thanks," she says, not lifting her gaze from her phone. She begins a running commentary on her Instagram feed: "Does anyone really want to see another picture of cupcakes?" "Jules and Brian are so in love, it's gross." "Inspirational sunset, got it ... glad you're having a rocking Friday night on your balcony."
As I work, the girls' chatter fades into background noise, like the drone of a hair dryer or city traffic. I lose myself in the strokes of different foundations I've applied to Taylor's jawline so I can match her skin tone flawlessly, and in the swirl of copper and sandy hues I blend on my hand to bring out the gold flecks in her eyes.
I'm brushing bronzer onto her cheeks when her cell phone rings.
Taylor stops tapping hearts and holds up her phone: "Private number. Should I get it?"
"Yes!" Mandy says. "It could be Justin."
Taylor wrinkles her nose. "Who answers their phone on a Friday night, though? He can leave a message."
A few moments later, she touches the speakerphone button and a man's voice fills the room:
"This is Ben Quick, Dr. Shields's assistant. I'm confirming your appointments this weekend, for tomorrow and Sunday from eight to ten A.M. The location again is Hunter Hall, Room 214. I'll meet you in the lobby and take you up."
Taylor rolls her eyes and I pull back my mascara wand.
"Can you keep your face still, please?" I ask.
"Sorry. Was I out of my mind, Mandy? I'm going to be way too hungover to get up early tomorrow."
"Just blow it off."
"Yeah. But it's five hundred bucks. That's, like, a couple sweaters from rag & bone."
These words break my concentration; five hundred is what I make for ten jobs.
"Gah. Forget it. I'm not going to set an alarm to go to some dumb questionnaire," Taylor says.
Must be nice, I think, looking at the sweater crumpled in the corner.
Then I can't help myself: "A questionnaire?"
Taylor shrugs. "Some psych professor needs students for a survey."
I wonder what sort of questions are on the survey. Maybe it's like a Myers-Briggs personality test.
I step back and study Taylor's face. She's classically pretty, with an enviable bone structure. She didn't need the full forty-five-minute treatment.
"Since you're going to be out late, I'll line your lips before I apply gloss," I say. "That way the color will last."
I pull out my favorite lip gloss with the BeautyBuzz logo on the tube and smooth it along Taylor's full lips. After I finish, Taylor gets up to go look in the bathroom mirror, trailed by Mandy. "Wow," I hear Taylor say. "She's really good. Let's take a selfie."
"I need my makeup first!"
I begin to put away the cosmetics I used for Taylor and consider what I will need for Mandy when I notice Taylor has left her phone on the chair.
My rocking Friday night will consist of walking my little mixed terrier, Leo, and washing the makeup out of my brushes — after I take the bus home to my tiny studio on the Lower East Side. I'm so wiped out that I'll probably be in bed before Taylor and Mandy order their first cocktails at the club.
I look down at the phone again.
Then I glance at the bathroom door. It's partly closed.
I bet Taylor won't even bother to return the call to cancel her appointment.
"I need to buy the highlighter she used," Taylor is saying.
Five hundred dollars would help a lot with my rent this month.
I already know my schedule for tomorrow. My first job doesn't begin until noon.
"I'm going to have her do my eyes kind of dramatic," Mandy says. "I wonder if she has false lashes with her."
Hunter Hall from eight to ten A.M. — I remember that part. But what was the name of the doctor and his assistant?
It's not even like I make a decision to do it; one second I'm staring at the phone and the next, it's in my hand. Less than a minute has passed; it hasn't locked out yet. Still, I need to look down to navigate to the voice mail screen, but that means taking my eyes off the bathroom door.
I jab at the screen to play the most recent message, then press the phone tightly to my ear.
The bathroom door moves and Mandy starts to walk out. I spin around, feeling my heartbeat erupt. I won't be able to replace the phone without her seeing me.
I can pretend it fell off the chair, I think wildly. I'll tell Taylor I just picked it up.
Dr. Shields's assistant ... eight to ten A.M. ...
"Should I make her try a darker lip color?"
Come on, I think, willing the message to play faster.
Hunter Hall, Room 214.
"Maybe," Mandy says.
I'll meet you in the lob —
I hang up and drop the phone back onto the chair just as Taylor takes her first step into the room.
Did she leave it faceup or facedown? But before there's time to try and remember, Taylor is beside me.
She stares down at her phone and my stomach clenches. I've messed up. Now I recall that she left it with the screen facing down on the chair. I put it back the wrong way.
I swallow hard, trying to think of an excuse.
"Hey," she says.
I drag my eyes up to meet hers.
"Love it. But can you try a darker lip gloss?"
She flops back onto the chair and I slowly exhale.
I re-do her lips twice — first making them berry, then reverting to the original shade, all the while steadying my right elbow with my left palm so my shaking fingers don't ruin the lines — and by the time I'm finished, my pulse has returned to normal.
When I leave the apartment with a distracted "Thank you" from the girls instead of a tip, my decision is confirmed.
I set the alarm on my phone for 7:15 A.M.
Saturday, November 17
The next morning, I review my plan carefully.
Sometimes an impulsive decision can change the course of your life.
I don't want that to happen again.
I wait outside Hunter Hall, peering in the direction of Taylor's apartment. It's cloudy and the air is thick and gray, so for a moment I mistake another young woman rushing in my direction for her. But it's just someone out for a jog. When it's five minutes past eight and it appears that Taylor is still asleep, I enter the lobby, where a guy in khakis and a blue button-down shirt is checking his watch.
"Sorry I'm late!" I call.
"Taylor?" he says. "I'm Ben Quick."
I'd correctly gambled on the assumption that Taylor wouldn't phone to cancel.
"Taylor is sick, so she asked me to come and do the questionnaire instead. I'm Jessica. Jessica Farris."
"Oh." Ben blinks. He looks me up and down, examining me more carefully.
I've traded my ankle boots for Converse high tops and slung a black nylon backpack over one shoulder. I figure it won't hurt if I look like a student.
"Can you hang on a second?" he finally says. "I need to check with Dr. Shields."
"Sure." I aim for the slightly bored tone Taylor used last night.
The worst thing that'll happen is he'll tell me I can't participate, I remind myself. No big deal; I'll just grab a bagel and take Leo for a long walk.
Ben steps aside and pulls out his cell phone. I want to listen to his side of the conversation, but his voice is muted.
Then he walks over to me. "How old are you?"
"Twenty-eight," I respond truthfully.
I sneak a glance at the entrance to make sure Taylor isn't going to saunter in at the last minute.
"You currently reside in New York?" Ben asks.
Ben has two more questions for me: "Where else have you lived? Anywhere outside the United States?"
I shake my head. "Just Pennsylvania. That's where I grew up."
"Okay," Ben says, putting his phone away. "Dr. Shields says you can participate in the study. First, I need to get your full name, address, and social security number. Can I see some ID?"
I shift my backpack into my hand and dig through it until I find my wallet, then I hand him my driver's license.
He snaps a picture, then takes down the rest of my information. "I can Venmo you the payment tomorrow at the conclusion of your session if you have an account."
"I do," I say. "Taylor told me it's five hundred dollars, right?"
He nods. "I'm going to text all this to Dr. Shields, then I'll take you upstairs to the room."
Could it possibly be this simple?CHAPTER 2
Saturday, November 17
You aren't the subject who was expected to show up this morning.
Still, you meet the demographic criteria of the study and the slot would otherwise be wasted, so my assistant Ben escorts you to Room 214. The testing space is large and rectangular, filled with windows along the eastern-facing side. Three rows of desks and chairs line the shiny linoleum floor. At the front of the room is a SMART Board, its screen blank. High on the back wall is an old-fashioned round clock. It could be any classroom in any college campus in any city.
Except for one thing: You are the only person here.
This venue has been selected because there is little to distract you, facilitating your ability to concentrate on the task ahead.
Ben explains that your instructions will appear on the computer that is being provided for your use. Then he closes the door.
The room is silent.
A laptop waits on a desk in the first row. It is already open. Your footsteps echo across the expanse of the floor as you walk toward it.
You ease into the seat, pulling it up to the desk. The metal leg of your chair grates against the linoleum.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "An Anonymous Girl"
Copyright © 2019 Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed." The plot for this story is incredibly original and is what initially piqued my interest in this book. But that's where it ends for me. I already know that I'll be in the minority with my opinions as this book will no doubt appeal to the masses. Told in two points of view, that of Dr Shields, the alluring, manipulative therapist conducting a survey on ethics and morality, and Jess, the unlucky participant that has drawn the attention of Dr Shields. Dr Shields finds Jess is most suitable for a personal agenda and begins the process of grooming and manipulating her. Its clear that the chapters narrated by Dr Shields are meant to have a creepy feel but the atmosphere falls flat. Jess is likeable enough, devastatingly flawed and a victim of her own secrets. I'm all for a slow burn but this book burns so slow it extinguished itself by the 40% mark and never really becomes engaging throughout. The synopsis for this book paints a picture of a story more psychologically frightening than is actually between the pages. The story is totally implausible, which I could forgive if only the narrative had been told in a more captivating way. There are no twists in this book, no gasping moments, no real sense of mystery. The ending is just blah and completely farfetched. I found the story to be pretty lackluster throughout. I would be remiss in not mentioning that clearly the authors are fans of fashion because nearly every scene includes a detailed description of what the characters are wearing down to the tiniest of details. These details lend nothing to the storyline and become laughable at points because of the absurdity of their inclusion in the book. I'm giving this one 2.5 ? rounded up for plot originality and the fact that I was able to finish the book despite it's failings. I was provided an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Once I started this book, I could not put it down. It pulled me in with the twisted mind games that took place. The way it ended had me basically with my jaw dropped and shaking my head because I didn’t anticipate it. All I can say is that if you love a good psychological thriller, this book is for you! Happy Reading!
Couldn’t put this down. Every time something was revealed, and I thought I had it figured out - another twist! So good. 10/10 would recommend.
Wow! This is the second book that I've read by Greer Hendricks and Sara Pekkanen and I am hooked on this dynamic duo! Jessica is a single girl with a struggling career trying to make it in the big city. Jessica has a sister who needs special medical attention due to an accident as a child and Jessica feels responsible to support her family in taking care of her. When she not so accidentally becomes part of a study run by Dr. Shields, her life begins to change. The extra money is exactly what she needs. At first her involvement in the study and her relationship with Dr. Shields seems to be a positive influence on her but things quickly start to change? The chapters alternate between Jessica's point of view and Dr. Shields' notes. Being able to see the story from two points of view made the characters so much more interesting and believable. I could actually see myself in Jessica's shoes and understand why she makes the choices that she does. As I neared the end of the book, it wasn't all that shocking to me until the very end. I thought I had it all figured out, but it turned out that I didn't really know the characters all that well! Those unreliable narrators will get you every time! This book is a real thinker! I could say more but don't want to give it away.
“Welcome back, Subject 52.” I have read a lot of mystery and thriller/suspense novels over the years. I’ve read no less than 30 in the previous year. So it’s fair to say, I’m experienced in the genre. I am rarely surprised by a thriller book anymore. And while the ending isn’t the “WTF!” moment, I tend to look for in a mystery/thriller/suspense (whatever you want to call it). I found it to be fully satisfying. The authors’ left such a beautiful, deceptive breadcrumb trail to follow to find out what the hell is going on. An Anonymous Girl starts with Jessica Farris sneaking her way in to a psychological study on morality conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields. The questions become more invasive and the sessions transition from questions to manipulative outings. Jessica starts to wonder if she can trust anything in her life let alone the secretive doctor and what obsessions she’s withholding. My favorite part of An Anonymous Girl was the juxtaposition between the two narratives. Jessica is a 28 year old makeup artist struggling to survive in the city. Jessica is sweet, a little naïve, but she has some dark secrets in her past that leads to some self-destructive tendencies. Tendencies that lead her right in to the cold and calculating arms of Dr. Shields. Dr. Shield’s perspective reads like case notes on her study. But is anyone as they seem? Hardly ever. Full of unreliable narrators, a realistic story of how wrong an obsession can go, this book is perfectly paced to keep your eating up every word until you read the end. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Where were the twists and turns of The Wife Between Us?
This book blew me away from the very beginning!! There was absolutely NO WAY I could put it down once I started it, I needed to know what was going to happen. I found it equally character and plot driven. It was one of the most intriguing thrillers I have read it quite some time and would absolutely consider it a must read if you love this genre. I love to read a psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator and side characters who are so questionable you can’t trust anyone. Jess was a great pick for the main character of this one. She really had me questioning her motives at first, but I saw myself reading through her pretty quickly, or so I thought. The scenes of her doing the research survey were awesome and helped you realize who she is as a person and exactly how she feels about herself. This is by far the book you need in your life right now, I can exclaim it enough! The mysterious aspects of the story were right on par with the psychological aspects, which made it quite the thrilling read. My attention was solely focused on this book the whole time I was reading it (which is hard when you read multiple books at the same time haha).
Awesome, couldn’t put it down but didn’t want it to end. Characters are terrifically crafted and all of them mesmerizing. Exciting, fun, suspenseful and not predictable. Fantastic.
I got "An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen from the library and waited and waited for it to come in as I could not wait to read it. I had read The Wife Between Us previously and loved it. I am not usually a suspense reader, but it had me hooked. I thought about the book and storyline long after I finished it--even several months later. It was one of those stories that stays with you and really makes you think. This book was no different. I was hooked from the first chapter. Because I had read The Wife Between Us, I kept look out for twists and surprises. I think that because of this, An Anonymous Girl was not quite as shocking to me as The Wife Between Us. I highly recommend both books as I found them both very enjoyable. Don't start it before bed though, or you will be a very tired person in the morning as you won't be able to put it down!
BOOK REVIEW: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen “We all have reasons for our judgments, even if those reasons are so deeply buried we don’t recognize them ourselves.” Genre: Psychological Thriller. Number of Pages: 375. Perspective: First Alternating. Location: New York City, NY. Motivated by her need for money, Jessica weasels her way into a psychology professor’s study on ethics and morality. She doesn’t realize that she just threw herself into the psychiatrist’s ruthless and manipulative test for her husband. First of all, I am excited to announce that Judging More Than Just The Cover will be starting a podcast as an extension of our website. The first discussion will cover an in-depth look at this book (and include spoilers). Keep your eye out for that in the next few weeks. So I will keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, which is difficult for thrillers. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I pushed through the beginning to keep up with my peers reading the book for the podcast. [It was great motivation to stick to one book and not book-hop like I normally do…it’s a BIG problem, I know.] But I got hooked pretty quickly and finished it in just a few sittings. There was one point in the book where I could not put it down anymore because I needed to find out what was happening. It’s one of those books where you don’t know one hundred percent what’s happening or who you can trust until the end, which was exciting. I love books that keep me guessing. This one still has me confused about a few events even after finishing. I usually don’t like that, but the ending was clear enough to still give me enough resolution to be satisfied. Read my review here: http://judgingmorethanjustthecover.blogspot.com/2019/02/an-anonymous-girl-greer-hendricks-sarah.html
I'll be honest, I thought I had this book figured out but I was wrong. Jessica Farris is a struggling make up artist trying to make ends meet. After meeting with a client she hears about a study and decides to pretend to be her client so that she can make some money. Her parents are struggling financially and she has a sister who is disabled who needs care. She goes for the study and ends up being picked to continue doing it because her answers intrigue the doctor. What follows is a book that keeps you on the edge of you seat. You are constantly guessing what happens next. I liked that Jessica is not your average female protagonist. She definitely does not make all of the right choices.
“When it comes down to it, you’ve only got yourself to rely on,” and isn’t that the truth! How do you outmaneuver someone who’s as sly as a fox and as crazy as a loon? Whose “sharpest weapon is her mind...(and) she wields it mercilessly”? Knowing yourself, your limitations, and the lengths you would go to for your loved ones is really only part of the battle. Jessica finds this out the hard way when she places herself in a situation that has twisted and dangerous consequences. Hendricks and Pekkanen combine forces to create a truly diabolical plot and characters with brilliantly, albeit sometimes sick, minds. This riveting book grabbed my attention and didn’t let go through the end. As you’ll see, sometimes people get what they deserve. *I received an arc from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review
Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. This story follows Jessica Farris who signs up to be a part of Dr. Lydia Shields’ experimental psychological research since the pay is too good to pass up (or so she believes). Holy sh*t! That was the first thing to come out of my mouth when I finished reading this stunning psychological thriller. I was a little hesitant to read this book for several reasons: 1) I haven’t read a lot of psychological thriller 2) this was my first introduction to Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (new fan girl over here!) and 3) the hype surrounding this book was massive, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. I applaud the authors for incorporating Dr. Shields’ point of view as a second person narrative because it made this novel even more chilling. There were certain scenes that I glanced over my shoulder because I thought Dr. Shields was observing me as well. Bravo! The plot immediately sucked me in within the first couple of chapters. I was obsessed and wanted to know how far this intense plot could go. The story was fast paced and contained twists and turns everywhere. As soon as I closed the book, I was reeling from everything that I read. I without a doubt give this book 5/5 stars! My heart is still palpitating from the ending.
I couldn't put it down. Easy read. Very good story line
This tells the sinister story of a girl who enters a study on morality with little information as to what the study entails. In order to help meet the needs of her family, she continues the study even when things don't quite add up. This is a very difficult book to describe and the synopsis gives little away, because of this the first stretch is somewhat difficult to get through. When the plot does get some direction, it is difficult to determine where it's going, but that's how the mystery in this unfolds. It's definitely a psychological thriller and a somewhat different take on a domestic thriller. I was happy to find that it didn't remind me of "The Wife Between Us" (I had feared this might follow the same formula). An Anonymous Girl unfolds in a different way. The reader is slowly unraveling what has happened along with the motives and mental state of some of the characters. There is no big twist like there is in The Wife Between Us, but many small revelations that open the reader's eyes to what is actually going on. Personally, I really enjoy psychological thrillers and understanding character motivations as a key part of the plot. This was where this book shined for me. Because there isn't a big twist, there was little to guess and the information that was revealed all seemed relevant and productive in moving the plot forward without it being tied up in one big reveal. Once the book got going and I was invested (took a little while), I thought this was a great read. The only reason this isn't a 5 star for me is that the ending didn't have the impact I was hoping for. The rest of the plot was interesting and thought-provoking, but the ending fell slightly flat. It wasn't a bad ending by any means but an ending with more impact would have made this an outstanding book instead of a really good one. I would definitely still recommend it, especially if you feel like you've read the same story in the domestic mystery/thriller genre for a while and want something similar but different.
"An Anonymous Girl" build slowly into a page turning thriller. Told alternately by Jessica Farris, a young makeup artist in New York City, and Lydia Shields, a doctor and professor of psychology. Jessica lies her way into a well paying research study conducted by Dr. Shields, who she assumes is a man. As she answers questions on morality and lying, she reveals many details of her life and history. In time, she is chosen for the next phase of the study, with more real world tests and higher pay, but face to face contact with the esteemed psychiatrist. Slowly, she opens her life in these sessions. Alternately, Lydia narrates her chapters and slowly reveals her ultimate goal and mission in this study, which is decidedly personal and not academic. The end result is a psychological chess game of each woman trying to out-think and out play the other in search of answers and escape. Well written, I would recommend this to readers who enjoy psychological fiction like that of Gillian Flynn, Tana French, or B.A. French.
I've read several Sarah Pekkanen novels. They are reliably solid reads. BUT her novels with Greer Henricks?! They are on an entirely different level. I read An Anonymous Girl compulsively. In line at the deli. In lieu of television with my husband. Stole a few pages before I got out of bed in the mornings to get my kids ready for school - minutes that I did not have surplus to lose. As I drove, cooked, showered, did laundry - in every spare mental minute - the story and dialogue and twists swirled in my mind. I read so much that "unique" storytelling devices rarely, if ever, blow me away. There are only so many. Pekkanen's and Hendrick's style of narration is the rare exception. I've been recommending this book to everyone I talk to in person and online since I finished the introduction. Exemplary, seductive, addictive, ultimately satisfying, surprising read.
There is no "sophomore slump" for authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, who first partnered on 2018's The Wife Between Us. Their second collaboration, An Anonymous Girl, cements their status as masters at crafting first-rate psychological thrillers. Jessica Farris is trying to make ends meet when she agrees to serve as a test subject in a psychological study focusing on ethics and morality conducted by Dr. Lydia Shields, a preeminent psychiatrist in New York City. The story swings into high, tantalizing gear from the very beginning when Jessica, an independent makeup artist, completes the initial questionnaire. Soon the study's scope ramps up from questionnaires to actual tasks that Jessica is expected to perform. As the line between reality and the things Jessica is asked to do for Dr. Shields blurs along with the line that divides right and wrong, ethical and unethical. It soon becomes clears to Jessica that not only knows what she is doing at all times, but also what she is thinking and the aspects of her family history that she hides out of guilt and remorse. Before long, Jessica is manipulated by Dr. Shields . . . or is she? Seemingly caught in a web woven by Dr. Shields of attraction, deceit and jealousy, Jessica discovers that obsession fuels the so-called study and believes has become a pawn in a deadly game that has already resulted in one death. Or is she? Is Jessica truly being used by Dr. Shields to carry out a dangerous plan from which she does not know how to extract herself . . . or is she paranoid? An Anonymous Girl creatively explores age-old questions employing a unique premise. "When money and morality intersect, the results can illuminate intriguing truths about human character. People are motivated to break their moral compasses for a variety of primal reasons: survival, hate, love, envy, passion. And money." But how far is Jessica willing to go to protect herself and her family, and free herself? The tautly-crafted story never drags. Instead, the unexpected plot twists and surprises propel the action forward right up to the jaw-dropping conclusion that most readers will never see coming. The book will leave readers pondering the limits of their own moral compasses and, for that reason, is an excellent choice for book clubs. Thanks to NetGalley for an Advance Reader's Copy of the book.
This is a thrilling, psychological ride all the way through. I love the moments when I was unsure or wondering who had the upper hand at what moment. While the journal-writing point of view chapters slowed things down for me, I was brought back to the story in the next chapter's character's point of view. Stick with it. You'll enjoy the plot turns and escalation to a satisfying resolution.
This book reminded me so much of the movie "Gone Girl". It is very riveting. It's a mystery that creates a space where you can definitely relate to all of the characters. The suspense takes you over and you never want to put the book down. There are twists and turns that I never saw coming and make the book worth every minute it took to read. Excellent!