Standalone Saturday 4 ... The Girls of No Return

Welcome to my latest installment of Standalone Saturday:


Today's feature:

The Girls of No Return
by Erin Saldin
Scholastic Books
February 1, 2012
Source: ARC from my collection
Mature content: drinking, implied sexual situations

My summary: Lida arrives at  the Alice Marshall School for Girls with a troubled past and a bad attitude. Every girl at the school has a dark alter identity: arsonist, murderer, cutter, compulsive liar. Lida's not sure what's more intimidating -- the girls, her own demons or the rugged beauty of the mountain landscape that surrounds the school. She'll have to face all of them.

My thoughts: The Girls of No Return is a finely crafted tale of suspense, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, a harrowing wilderness adventure.  If I were pitching it to Hollywood, I'd  call it Girl, Interrupted in the woods.

At Alice Marshall, Lida grows close to two fellow students: Boone, a tough local with a take-no-prisoners attitude, and Gia, stunningly beautiful and evasive. Gia and Boone immediately detest each other, while Lida is drawn to each of them for different reasons. Both of them demand Lida's unwavering loyalty. Clearly, someone's going to get hurt, and not just her feelings.

The Girls of No Return is a gutsy book. Erin Saldin wasn't afraid to break some of the tried and true conventions of current YA fiction, and I think this book was stronger for it. There's not a shred of romance here, and very little action until the last few pages. An impatient reader might find the pacing slow. But I loved the fact that Saldin had the confidence to gradually build both suspense and a pervasive sense of menace until, by the last pages, I was dying to find out what happened. Nothing could have pried this book out of my hands until I was finished.

I'm always thrilled to read a book that uses its setting to full advantage. Saldin's bio says she grew up in Idaho, and her love for and knowledge of the area shines through on every page. Her descriptions highlight the duality of nature -- its beauty and its menace. This duality could also be extended to the girls in the book: beautiful and dangerous.

There are books you close and immediately forget. This is a book you'll continue to think about after you're done reading.

YA Trivia: In 2007, this New York Times bestselling YA author published her debut YA, a story that takes place at a treatment center for rebellious teen girls. Can you name the author and the book?

Amy F. got the right answer: Sisters in Sanity by Gayle Forman. She gets to steal an ARC!


  1. Hmm this book sounds very different from my normal reads--but I am so intrigued. I think I would like it. I will have to look it up. :)


    1. It is really different -- which was one of the reasons I liked it. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

  2. Yay!!! I had so so things about this one. So glad you liked it because the publisher is sending me a copy. haha I was a little concerned about it but now I'm looking forward to it! :)

  3. This sounds like a great book. I love when the author does a fantastic job at describing the settings. It makes me feel like I am part of the story.

    1. This is a great setting too.
      And, just for the record, Amy got the trivia right (I forgot to add it this am). Let's see if anyone else knows the answer...

  4. ooooh, this one might grow on me. thanks for the review!

  5. I'm liking the sound of THE GIRLS OF NO RETURN.

    No idea of the trivia answer.

    1. Amy got it right on Twitter. I'll see if anyone figures it out by tomorrow and then I'll answer it :)

  6. I dunno, I thought Lida was digging Gia in a sexual way. But I did like that the book wasn't about a boy, yes. Nice review.


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