Jennifer L. Wrights exciting novel The Girl from the Papers is filled with robberies, revenge, and redemption. Beatrice used to be a star, but she now lives in poverty. She fled from her abusive stepfather and is desperate for fame and affection. Her world brightens when she meets charismatic, attentive Jack. But Jack draws her into his world of crime. Torn between Jacks promises of a glamorous life and the example of her friend Allis quiet, enduring faith, Beatrice decides what she values most. Beatrice narrates, moving between her past and present to share information about what led to her final, deadly crime. There are exciting scenes, as with a bank robbery, but also moments of quiet and reflection, as when Beatrice wrestles with the question of whether her actions are justifiable. Tragedies and hope both appear as Beatrice works to choose between faith and notoriety. Achieving a delicate balance between showing the importance of forgiveness and grace and illustrating the consequences of wrongdoing, the storys progression relies on the whims and principles of its colorful cast. Jack loves Beatrice, but he is unable to see past his twisted views of justice. In contrast, his sister-in-law, Alli, is the picture of goodness and piety. She challenges Beatrices negative perceptions of faith, which were tainted by her cruel stepfather, without judging Beatrices skepticism. In the active but contemplative historical novel The Girl from the Papers, a woman reckons with forgiveness and repentance. Though inspired by the lives of the infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, this novel aims toward a more uplifting conclusion.
In the captivating latest from Wright (If It Rains), the gritty realities of the Great Depression force a woman into a life of crime. Beatrice Carraway and her family have always struggled financially, and when her childhood pageant career ends at age nine, so do the winnings that helped to keep the West Texas family afloat. Not long after, her mother marries Charles Thomas, a strict and religious man who abuses Beatrice and her sister. After fleeing Charles, the three live with the girls grandparents. As the Depression sets in, moneymaking opportunities dry up until Beatrice, now 19, meets and falls for Jack Turner, a charismatic small-time thief who brings her onto the wrong side of the law. After Jack does a stint in prison for a robbery gone wrong, Beatrice, at the urging of her faithful sister-in-law Alli, begins reading the Bible and starts to reconnect with her Christian faith, a fraught proposition given her early experiences with her authoritarian stepfather. Alli, however, introduces Beatrice to a loving God that promises rescue from the increasingly dangerous path she finds herself on, though shell have to resist the allure of easy money to do so. Wrights tightly plotted historical offers a nuanced exploration of how faith can serve as a cudgel for submission or a source of salvation. Wrights fans will be riveted.
Born into West Dallas poverty in the 1920s, Beatrice banks on her pretty face to pull her out of the muck. Beauty fades, though, and her mothers choice in men relegates Bea to a mere possession. Every potential break is soon met with suspicion and ridicule of Beas socioeconomic status and street address. When Bea meets debonair (and slightly criminal) Jack Turner, she sees her ticket out of the swamp and factory smokeafter all, playing by the rules hasnt gotten her ahead. When all her dreams of fame come true, however, they dont bring the happiness and peace she craves. With a cast of characters alternately encouraging her to run toward sin or toward salvation, Bea must both face the consequences of her life of crime and decide what true religion is. VERDICT In this Bonnie-and-Clyde tale with a redemptive twist, Wright (Come Down Somewhere) proves her literary chops and puts herself on the level of historical-fiction favorites like Susan Meissner and Fiona Davis.