The Girl from the Papers

Written by Jennifer L. Wright
Review by Susan Higginbotham

In 1929, Beatrice Carraway seems to be going nowhere. Her glory days on the child beauty pageant circuit are long behind her, the college boys she meets at her waitressing job are interested only in good times, and her modest acting talents aren’t enough to take her out of the slum of West Dallas, Texas. So when Beatrice meets attentive, well-dressed, and big-spending Jack Turner at a party, she’s not inclined to worry too much about the source of his income—or to heed the warnings of Jack’s sister-in-law, Alli, who’s concerned for Beatrice’s soul.

Loosely based on the story of Bonnie and Clyde, The Girl from the Papers has both a fast-moving plot and complex characters, particularly Beatrice, to whom Wright gives a compelling back story. Beatrice, who narrates, has an authentic voice, leavened by a dry humor (she describes her father’s death as “an unfortunate alignment of my father, a frayed rope, and a pallet of bricks on a construction site”). The one quibble I had with this novel is its back-and-forth timeline. Though much in vogue, it doesn’t add anything to the story and in fact detracts slightly from the suspense, which nonetheless is still considerable. Only the call of duty toward an impatient four-legged housemate prevented me from reading this in a single sitting.