The Gosling Girl – Book Review

Title:- The Gosling Girl

Author:- Jacqueline Roy

Date published:- January 20th 2022

Publisher:- Simon and Schuster

No. of pages:- 397 pages

Genre:- Psychological Thriller/Black American Fiction

Content Warning:- Child Murder, Abuse, Racism

Plot rating:- 4/5 stars

Writing rating:- 4.5/5 stars

Characters rating:- 4/5 stars


Monster?                    Murderer?
Child?                         Victim?
Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again. 
When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again.
Natalie Tyler is the officer brought in to investigate the murder. A black detective constable, she has been ostracised from her family and often feels she is in the wrong job. But when she meets Michelle, she feels a complicated need to protect her, whatever she might have done.
The Gosling Girl is a moving, powerful account of systemic, institutional and internalised racism, and of how the marginalised fight back. It delves into the psychological after-effects of a crime committed in childhood, exploring intersections between race and class as Michelle’s story is co-opted and controlled by those around her. Jacqueline writes with a cool restraint and The Gosling Girl is a raw and powerful novel that will stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.

I listened to this as an audiobook. The story somewhat left some thoughts that greatly upset me.

In the story, we were first introduced to a character named Michelle Cameron, who was released from the prison. She was in prison for the murder of a four year old Carrie Gosling, which she committed when she was just ten years old. Now an adult, Michelle is living under the name Samantha and is friends with a girl named Lucy, whom she met while they were both in prison. Then Lucy was found murdered and Michelle was the prime suspect and her past came back haunting her.

What I like about the book is how realistic this book. Though it’s a work of fiction, you can see the reality of the whole story. Michelle was half-white half Black and throughout her entire life, she will be known as the “black” girl who lured the “white” girl and murdered her. The story basically focuses on Michelle’s life after prison, and how she still had to live under the shadows. In this book, we question about racism in the society and how the society is able to quickly judge and pinpoint the blame on the minority instead of blaming on the majority “white” population. We also learn in the story through Michelle’s account that a “white” girl named Jessie was also present when Carrie was murdered and that she too had a role in the murder, though Jessie was never charged, which brings us question as to how fair the justice system actually works. In real life, this is really true as we see how many black or minority people were sent to prison and blamed easily for the crimes they would have or wouldn’t have committed.

Here along with Michelle we were introduced two more characters–Natalie Tyler a cop and a black cop who is assigned to be Michelle’s parole officer and Zoe, a white woman who wants to write a book about Michelle, hearing her side of the story. We see Natalie’s struggle as a black cop, adjusting to the justice system. Overtime, towards the end, we see some development of friendship between Michelle and Natalie. Zoe, in my opinion was a mistrusting character–though we see that she was adamant that she wanted to write Michelle’s side of the opinion, we wouldn’t know what her true intentions were.

As for Lucy’s murder, I am not sure if it was solved–I am not sure if I actually missed that part. We see how Michelle slowly try to adjust a normal life but every time someone gets to know her past, Michelle was forced to move from place to place. You could actually see all the emotional struggles Michelle was going through as she actually had no real or trustworty friends she could turn to, even after her boyfriend, Ryan betrayed her by telling about her past to one of his friends Amber.

The writing was spot on–excellent as the writer manages to take the reader into the story. All the character, particularly Michelle Cameron is a very complex character that despite the crime she committed, as a reader you actually feel sorry for her. Overall, if you like heartbreaking and emotional thrillers, The Gosling Girl might be for you. Overall, worth four stars.

Jacqueline Roy was born and raised in London. Her father was Jamaican and her mother was English. She lectured in English at Manchester Metropolitan University for many years, teaching Postcolonial Literatures and Creative Writing. She writes fiction for both adults and children.

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