From the blurb, I read that this was the true crime story that inspired, Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”.
But this is not a true-crime story in the traditional sense. I was eager to get started but had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the book was based on a true story. I had to stop myself from Googling as I read. I wanted to wait until I was finished before I searched for anything about the actual crime.
An excellent read! I was hooked right from the start!
Camden, New Jersey (June 1948)
11-year-old Sally Horner is an inquisitive and happy child. She loves learning and even loves going to school, but she has a hard time fitting in. One day she sees the girls at school doing a blood sisters oath. Sally would do anything to be a part of that group. The girls know that Sally wants to be friends with them. They tell her she can be part of the group IF she steals something from Woolworth’s. Sally is hesitant but she follows through, slipping a five-cent black marble composition notebook into her sweater and hurries to leave the store. Sally doesn’t realize that stealing that notebook will change her life forever.
52-year-old Frank LaSalle is just out of prison. He sees Sally steal the notebook and decides to make his move. He claims to be FBI and tells Sally she’ll do as he says …unless she wants to be arrested and taken to jail. Terrified, Sally does as he asks.
The chapters alternate between Sally and many other characters. We read about Sally’s time with LaSalle, the places they lived, and the people Sally came in contact with. There are chapters from Sally’s mother, sister, and brother-in-law’s point of view. They all struggle with guilt, anger, and blame. So many things could have changed the outcome of this story.
“But the even greater mystery, she thought, was Sally herself. What on earth would have made her agree to go with him, this fiend?”
This is an extremely chilling, emotional, and heartbreaking story that had me by the throat. I had to take a break now and then, but it wasn’t long before I picked the book back up again.
“While the series of events and the settings in which they occur mirror history”, this is a work of fiction. She dreamed herself into Sally’s life. Events were dramatized, relationships constructed, the sequence of events changed.
Though disturbing at times, this was a brilliantly written and intense read that had me Googling for hours once I finished the book. I am really looking forward to reading more from this author.
I’d like to thank St. Martin’s books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.