Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: GRIDLEY GIRLS by Meredith First

by Meredith First
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Published by SparkPress
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Purchase Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


Sometimes you have to go back before you can move forward.

Meg Monahan feels like she was born to be a secret keeper. From the moment she became a peer counselor in high school, Meg has been keeping her friends secrets – from sordid family drama to their sex lives – that she never wanted to know. Flash forward to adulthood when Meg is a recruiter for the world’s hippest (and most paranoid) high-tech company – and now Meg is a professional secret keeper.

When sudden tragedy strikes before Meg hosts the wedding of her childhood BFF, Anne Calzaretta, the women are forced to face their past – and their secrets – in order to move on to their future.

In 1978, Meg, Anne, Jennifer, and Tonya were such close friends, they were known as “The Group” in their hometown of Gridley, California. But in ninth grade, their lives were changed forever. Loss, lies, and secrets separated them, but could not break their bonds of friendship.

Thirty years later, Meg and Anne reminisce about those days—dealing with parents, school, boys, sex, love, and betrayal. Anne remembers their freshman year as an easier time, but Meg, still feeling guilty about a betrayal of Anne’s trust, is haunted. Even now, Meg is keeping a secret she’s not prepared to face, let alone share.

In her debut novel, based on true events, Meredith First tells a timeless story about the bonds of friendship, loss, and betrayal—and the forgiveness that is within everyone.

Can anyone really keep a secret forever?

My Thoughts

"Meg is a professional secret keeper." This sentence and the book cover is what prompted me to read Gridley Girls. It sounded mysterious and the cover screamed summer, and I love stories about friendships and growing up, so I thought it was a perfect read for me. I'll admit that while I was reading the story and enjoying it, it took me longer than I anticipated to finish it. That had to do more with me and not the story, but once I committed my time to this book, I really got into the story and the lives of Meg and her friends. 

Meg is an interesting and amusing character and there are many things about her that I identified with. Her tell it like it is, honest attitude is refreshing. She is contemplative and sincere and her friends took notice. And while these qualities are her gift, they are also her burden. The secrets she keeps become too much for her. 

What I liked:

  • Meg's relationship with her sister Rowan. She found wisdom in her sister's words. Rowan was more than Meg's sisterm she was her friend too.
  • The idea of The Virgin Diaries and Meg keeping an account of their high school days and Anne's need to read them.
  • Dan Stone - he was "a great guy." I loved the final scenes with him in the story and Meg's "high school romance." Their "romance" was sweet and Meg's uncertainty rang so true when she tried to break up with him because she was scared of being in a relationship. 
  • Meg's friendship with Anne and the support and the love that she has for her from childhood into adulthood. 
  • Understanding Meg's secret. 

Favorite Quotes

From the prologue: "Join me now, in Gridley, where the land is lush, the fruit is sweet, and the girls are more fun than you would ever guess. Where we might not live happily ever after all the time, but we have each other, and that's all we need.
     Life isn't so boring in a small town." (pg. 2) - This is the hook and a good one!

"I don't believe in sweating." (pg. 6) - Adult Meg at spin class. This line cracked me up and I just knew that Meg was full of personality. And she is and her humor and perspective makes Gridley Girls entertaining. 

"I guess just growing up and getting older scares me. I don't like the unknown. I like to know what's going to happen and that we're all safe. Ever since I started high school, I feel like we're not safe. It seems like bad stuff happens so quickly, . . ." (pg. 227) - Meg pinpointing that growing up is hard. In adolescence, they are dealing with new experiences, making their own decisions, and how overwhelming and scary that can be when they are still so young. 

"No good ever comes from a story that begins with "I was just trying to be cool." (pg 234) - You know that time when you do something really dumb and are lucky you didn't get caught. This is that time for Meg.

GRIDLEY GIRLS is filled with humor and contemplation, and so much honesty about dealing with uncertainity. Uncertainty is scary can be paralizing and this story shows that, but it also shows how to get beyond it. I really enjoyed reading about the friendships and secrets and growing up and getting wiser. It's a fantastic read and I'd recommended it to readers who enjoy stories about friendships and growing up.

Disclaimer:  I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the ARC provided. Quotes were taken from the ARC and may differ from the final published copy. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. Thank you so much! This is my all time favorite review and clearly, I need to bookmark this page and read it when I'm having a bad day. YAL!!

    1. I'm glad that my review lifts you up. We all need that every once in a while. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.


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