The Girl on the Stairs
by Patricia Rose
Austin Macauley Publishers

"There was not really anything to say. She now had to concentrate on what was expected of her..."

This story leaves an indelible impression. The author writes a hauntingly realistic tale of a girl growing up with dysfunctional parents in England in the mid-1900s. She and her brother are so emotionally abused that readers will want to reach through the words, embrace the kids with a meaningful adult hug, and then rescue them. The main character, Alexa, is scolded for car sickness and then describes the time her parents drive off and leave her brother by the side of the road because he has to go to the bathroom. Hours later, heading home from the beach and looking for Luke along the way, "...her mother saw him; a small boy crouched by the roadside."

Rose's book is emotionally jarring fiction. Her writing is professional and as dramatic and moving as A. Manette Ansay's Sister. Both write stunning accounts of growing up with disturbingly awful parents. The characters are realistic because they are multidimensional, complex, and believable. Though Alexa's childhood is worse than most, her life is imaginable because readers can relate to eldest children sometimes being forced into adult responsibilities too early, leaving their childhoods behind prematurely. Equally relatable is Luke's response to the family trauma. He hardens himself. The storyline is spot-on in its heartbreaking realism. This is a story of the resilience of youth, but it also shows how detrimental early trauma can be. Overall, readers will empathize with the powerlessness and sometimes unjust predicaments of childhood, the need for supportive peers, and the bravery it takes, in some cases, to move past childhood and into healthy adulthood.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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