Review: That Green Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan

About this book

(blurb via Goodreads)

“1955: In a cramped apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers, unable to reveal the truth about their relationship. They guard their private lives fiercely – until someone guesses their secret.

1975: Twenty years on, in the same apartment, Ava Winters is desperately trying to conceal her mother’s fragile mental state from the critical eyes of their neighbours. But, one sweltering July morning, Ava’s mother escapes.

Alone after her mother’s departure, Ava takes delivery of a parcel. The box is addressed only to ‘Apartment 3B’, and contains a photograph of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across her face.

Seeking refuge from her own crisis, Ava determines to track the owner of the photograph down. And, in so doing, discovers a shocking chain of kindnesses, lies and betrayals – with one woman at the centre of it all…”


That Green Eyed Girl Julie Owen MaylanMy Thoughts

As you could figure out from the blurb, the story has a dual timeline, 1955 and 1975. The location is the same apartment in New York. As we switch between timelines, we get to know the women who live in this apartment – in 1955, Dovie and Gillian and in 1975, Ava and her mother.

Dovie and Gillian are both teachers, and very much in love. But, in the 1950s being gay is seen as “unnatural” and something to be shamefully hidden and kept secret. They do adore each other and have built a home and a safe environment for themselves in apartment 2B. It is their haven, their shelter. But their sanctuary is being threatened by the highly unlikeable Judith, a colleague who warns to expose them if they don’t give in to her demands.

We also meet Ava, a teenager who lives with her mother. Ava’s mom is going through a very tough time, and her mental health is deteriorating, and Ava is doing her best to take care of her mom, whilst also hiding her mom’s fragile state of mind and problems from her friends and everybody else. That is such a huge responsibility on her young shoulders. And above all, she has got a very intriguing puzzle to solve.

The two timelines wove together gorgeously, and you cannot help but empathise with all the female protagonists in the story. Except with Judith of course. And my intense hatred towards Judith is just a testament of how well-written and well developed these characters are! I physically clenched my teeth every time she was present in a scene. It addresses a multitude of issues, including homophobia, patriarchy, the treatment of mental health issues, and more.

It is heart wrenching, thought provoking, emotional and beautiful. It had me hooked, and I kept turning the pages with eager anticipation to find out how things will pan out for Dovie, Gillian and Ava.

This is such an impressive and compelling debut by Julie Owen Moylan.

5/5 rating from me!

Thanks to Penguin Random House SA for the gifted copy

About the author: Julie Owen Moylan