Review: The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing by Sonia Faleiro

Title: The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing

Author: Sonia Faleiro

Published: 14th January 2021, Bloomsbury ANZ

Status: Read January 2021 courtesy Bloomsbury ANZ/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

The Good Girls is a powerful, heartrending and compelling work of investigative journalism from award winning author Sonia Faleiro.

On May 27th 2014, cousins and best friends 16 year old Padma* and 14 year old Lalli* went into the fields to relieve themselves before bedtime, as was their habit, and never returned. In the early hours of the morning their body’s were found hanging in the mango tree orchard belonging to their families in the tiny Indian village of Katra Sadatgani. And there they would remain for days as their family demanded justice.

* The girls’ names have been changed in accordance with Indian law which requires that the identity of victims of certain crimes remain private.

Drawing on official documents, news reports, and personal interviews, Faleiro attempts to piece together the events that led up to the girl’s deaths, and the extraordinary events that followed. Faleiro does her best to establish a timeline and unravel the often contradictory information that is a hallmark of this investigation. This is a complex case that involves a large number of people, and is forced to take into account issues of family structure, tradition, poverty, caste, religion, and political corruption to explain both its origin and its development.

The Good Girls is not the easiest of reads, from a position of western privilege it’s confronting to learn about the circumstances in which Padma and Lalli lived. This not only includes their immediate environs in a village with no running water, sanitation, or electricity, but also a society that considers them as little more than chattel.

Crimes against women, and girls, are ubiquitous in India, both in public and at home. Despite attempts to lawfully curb the violence (largely as a consequence of the ‘Delhi Bus Rape’ in 2012) when caste, tradition and religion insist that women are little more than the property of men, the law is often ignored, abetted by corrupt politicians and a venal police force who lack the skills, resources or motivation to investigate complaints.

To be honest I have little faith in the official findings in this case, given the falsehoods, contradictions, and grievous errors that dogged every step of the investigation. I don’t think any conclusion can be reached with confidence, but I appreciate Faleiro’s attempt to shed light on what happened to Padma and Lalli.

The Good Girls is a well written, disturbing yet fascinating narrative that provides insight not only into an individual tragedy, but also into a culture and a country. Incidentally I strongly suggest you don’t Google the case, or if you do be careful which articles you view as many are accompanied by a photo of the two girls hanging from the mango tree.

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Available from Bloomsbury ANZ

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I HiveUK I Indiebound

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carla
    Jan 20, 2021 @ 07:30:12

    Great review, but I think I will pass on this one. My heart is sick whenever I hear about these crimes against women in certain countries around the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Anne - Books of My Heart
    Jan 20, 2021 @ 07:36:23

    Fantastic review. I’m sure this was difficult to read but it would add a lot to cultural knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Helen Murdoch
    Jan 20, 2021 @ 15:13:02

    This sounds really interesting and disturbing, but I am now intrigued enough to add it to my TBR list. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Jan 20, 2021 @ 22:26:37

    Whew. Just reading your review broke my heart, Shelley. Even more so because I agree about your conclusions about the official findings in this.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. whatsnonfiction
    Jan 21, 2021 @ 01:07:54

    This sounds heartbreaking. I’ve seen this book coming up recently, I think it must be getting a US release soon. It sounds incredibly difficult to read but equally as important. Thanks for your excellent review.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundaySalon #SundayPost | book'd out

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