Those Girls by Chevy Stevens is a powerful, emotionally wrenching, gut punching novel of pain and tragedy that once in its grips, you will not escape unscathed.
“…Remember when Dad used to buy us Caramilk bars every Christmas?’ Courtney’s voice was small, the memory big.
I chewed slower now, my eyes filling with tears. It had been years since Dad had brought us chocolate bars, not since our mom had died.
It had only been three days since I’d killed him…”
Dani, Courtney, and Jess are three young sisters on the run. Dani the oldest at seventeen and Jess the youngest at fifthteen, had lost their mother a few years past and were living with their father. A drunk and abusive man who had never gotten over the death of his wife and had no idea how to raise his growing his girls. After the mother had died, the girl’s father abandoned them for a time and they had been separated in foster homes. Only now they were reunited and were willing to put up with anything to stay together. So they took the drunken beatings until one night, as he tried to burn Courtney’s face they had had enough and then he was laying on the floor in the bathroom, dead from a bullet wound.
The girls knew, even if they could prove it was self-defense, they would be separated and sent to foster families and one of them would certainly go to prison. They bury their father’s body and set out. But the beat up old truck wouldn’t get them very far and they end up broken down on the road outside of the town of Cash Creek.. Two young men, Brian and Gavin come upon them and offer to help fix their truck and give them a place to sleep and work. But Brian and Gavin aren’t the good young men they pretend to be and the teenage girls find themselves trapped and locked in an abandoned warehouse. Here, Brian and Gavin beat and sadistically rape the sisters over the course of days. Until one day the girls escape and with help, flee.
Seventeen years pass and the girls have grown, Dani is now Dallas, Courtney has become Crystal and Jess has become Jamie. They have put behind them what happened in Cash Creek. But some nightmares never end and after another bad drunken night with a violent man, Crystal breaks down. She knows the only way she can finish this is to return to Cash Creek and make Brian and Gavin pay for what they did. Dallas and Jamie know they have to follow Crystal and save her from herself and the past, and in doing so, save Jamie’s teenage daughter Skylar from the horror of Cash Creek. From all the truths of Cash Creek.
Those Girls is brutal. It has all the subtlety of a seventies B movie. Blood and violence, vicious and sadistic rapes, and murder. The girls are torn apart by the events that shape their early lives and while it would be a happy ending to say it all turns out well, it just isn’t what this story was going to be.
Simply put, I really didn’t enjoy Those Girls.
But I’m not sure I was meant to. It was a tale of violence against women and the storybook ending of all turning into rainbows and butterflies isn’t realistic. The pain of those events do not just haunt the girls but all around them.
It is potent storytelling. Powerfully crafted with little room for the reader to breathe a sigh of hope and relief. Those Girls will do what few books are capable of doing. It stays with you. You will live with Dani, Courtney and Jess long after the last page is turned.
A very good and disturbing read.