The Drifterby Christine Lennon (Website, Facebook)
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on February 21, 2017
Genres: Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Crime, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Murder, Psychological, Psychological Suspense, Suspense
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Megan Abbott meets M.O. Walsh in Christine Lennon’s compelling debut novel about a group of friends on the cusp of graduating from college when their lives are irrevocably changed by a brutal act of violence.
For two decades, Elizabeth has tried to escape the ghosts of her past…tried to erase the painful memories…tried to keep out the terrifying nightmares. But twenty years after graduating from the University of Florida, her carefully curated life begins to unravel, forcing her to confront the past she’s tried so hard to forget.
1990s, Gainesville, Florida…
Elizabeth and her two closest friends, Caroline and Ginny, are having the time of their lives in college—binge watching Oprah, flirting for freebies from Taco Bell, and breaking hearts along the way. But without warning, their world is suddenly shattered when a series of horrific acts of violence ravage the campus, changing their lives forever.
Sweeping readers from the exclusive corners of sorority life in the South to the frontlines of the drug-fueled, slacker culture in Manhattan in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, when Elizabeth is forced to acknowledge her role in the death of a friend in order to mend a broken friendship and save her own life, The Drifter is an unforgettable story about the complexities of friendships and the secrets that can ultimately destroy us.
If you crack open the pages of The Drifter expecting a murder mystery, you’ll be a bit disappointed. It’s stated in black and white in the back cover blurb that former sorority girl Betsy and her two best friends experience a horrible act of violence while in their last year of college in Gainesville, Florida. From the first pages of the book, you see that Betsy–now Elizabeth twenty years later in New York City–is barely holding on as she watches her 4-year-old daughter’s preschool from across the street after dropping her off for the day. Her crippling fear that something bad will happen to her daughter has hit an all-time high, and she needs to face her own demons from the past in order to move forward. Over the course of the book, we get to see how things went so wrong for Betsy over the years–starting in 1990.
Most of The Drifter is told in the past, starting in 1990 when Betsy is in her last semester of college with her best friend Ginny, and her frenemy Caroline. The three girls met when they were rushing and became members of the same sorority, and while rich, pretty Ginny was nice, equally rich and privileged Caroline had a nasty streak that no one wanted to cross. After a summer where Betsy had Ginny all to herself, hours filled with a part time job at the local bagel shop in the mornings, parties, and dinners with Ginny, August meant the return of Caroline–whom Betsy had fallen out with earlier that year over a guy. Things were tense as the semester was set to start, but then female coeds’ began to be discovered dead–and the panic started in Gainesville. Everyone was on high alert, but in a town full of college students, what are the odds that you or your friends would be one of the serial killer’s victims? Unfortunately Betsy, Ginny, and Caroline find out.
I really liked reading about Betsy’s college experience. Having gone to college a few years after this time frame, I still remember being a teenager during these years–the music, the fashion, the movies. Christine Lennon definitely filled in some familiar things and gave me a walk down memory lane. The excitement of being young, careless, and free was palpable until tragedy struck. And you could feel the weight of everything come crashing around Betsy and her new boyfriend Gavin as they fled Gainesville for safer pastures. But the guilt of not being able to save her friend hung around Betsy’s neck like a noose and clung to her, even after she and Gavin moved to New York City after graduation. Betsy’s depression and coping mechanisms were destructive, but she still tried to function as an adult should. She just couldn’t leave that tragedy in college behind.
I give The Drifter a four out of five. This book is definitely more of a slow burn, and you get deep into Betsy’s life–in depth for that tragic month of August 1990 when the murders were taking place, and time does speed up a bit once she’s moved to New York and begun her adult life with Gavin. There is a lot of character and emotional detail here which did bog a few parts down, but I really loved the college days pre-murder, as well as the latter half of the book when Betsy’s life is really starting to implode. These were the faster paced parts of the book and they just popped. I really enjoyed this coming of age novel, and Christine Lennon did a fantastic job of capturing how intense our relationships–especially friendships with other women–are at that lovely barely-out-of-our teenaged years.
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About Christine Lennon
CHRISTINE LENNON is a Los Angeles based writer. Before she moved to the West Coast and started her freelance career, she was an editor at W, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. Since then, she has written for publications including, T, the New York Times Style Magazine; the Wall Street Journal; Town & Country; W; Vogue; Harper’s Bazaar; Martha Stewart Living; Sunset; C California Style; Marie Claire; Self; Net-a-Porter’s Porter and The Edit online magazine—among others. Christine lives in California with her husband, Andrew Reich, and their twins. The Drifter is her first book.
Find out more about Christine at her website.
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Christine Lennon’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for THE DRIFTER:
Tuesday, February 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, February 22nd: she treads softly
Thursday, February 23rd: Bewitched Bookworms
Friday, February 24th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Monday, February 27th: StephTheBookworm
Tuesday, February 28th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, March 1st: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, March 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Monday, March 6th: G. Jacks Writes
Monday, March 6th: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Thursday, March 9th: Booked on a Feeling