An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen: A review

Hendricks/Pekkanen had a unique idea for the plot of their book; a young woman, a make-up artist, in New York needs extra money to help her parents pay for the care of her disabled sister. The young woman, Jessica (Jess), is "doing" one of her clients one day when she hears about a way to earn money by participating in a psychological study. She sees a flyer that reads:
"Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed."
She learns that her client who had signed up to participate has decided to drop out before the study has actually begun. She decides to present herself as a replacement.

She is accepted and thus begins an experience that will test her resilience and strength of character.

Running the study is a Dr. Shields. The writers tell their story through the perspectives of Jess and Dr. Shields. 

Jess finds herself seated at a computer and faced with a series of questions to answer. They are questions designed to elicit her responses as to how she would handle certain questions of ethics and morality. She is admonished to be completely honest. She finds many of the questions challenging. After each session at the computer, some of them continue to haunt her as she goes about her daily activities.

As we get to know Dr. Shields, it slowly becomes apparent that there is more at stake for her than just the completion of a psychological study. We begin to suspect that she has a personal agenda and that she is maneuvering Jess to fit into that agenda in some way. It isn't clear at first just what is going on but it seems evident that it may not be in Jess's best interests.

The pace of the plotting is intended to build suspense slowly and that works pretty well for about half the book; then the slow pace began to lose me and I never really got back on its wavelength through the rest of the story.

One thing that niggled at me and finally began to actively irritate me was the voice of Dr. Shields. Her narrative is told in second person, passive voice throughout and after a while that became annoying to read. I suppose the intent was to keep her character aloof and mysterious. I can't really imagine another reason for that choice, but it just didn't work for me.

The writers deserve kudos for the originality of their plot and the character of Jess is multi-layered and fairly interesting, but overall, I felt the execution left something to be desired.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


  1. What ever made you decide to read this book? It sounds so manipulative. Of course, I am not criticizing you for reading it and I am sorry it was not that good. I have a thing about certain modern fiction novels that fall down on the execution of an original idea. I wonder if they get published for the sensationalism of their subjects even though the writing is not good.

    1. Actually, one of my daughters read it and quite liked it and many of the reviews on Goodreads are raves, but I'm definitely in the minority here.

  2. Sorry I have been absent for a while, Dorothy. I've been doing some tasks at home that needed attention--not urgent, but I've been putting it off for long enough.

    Anyways, sorry this one didn't work that well for you. Rhiannon @ Ivory Owl Reviews blog found it equally problematic. Some bloggers I follow liked the concept and its development though, so it seems the novel has divided readers.

    1. Welcome back! You have been missed.

      Yes, it seems to be a book that one either loves or...doesn't. I was enjoying it up to a point; then it lost me.


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