Skip to main content

An Anonymous Girl


An Anonymous Girl

When Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen teamed up on their first collaborative project, THE WIFE BETWEEN US, the result was a psychological thriller whose twists and turns were truly unpredictable. I listened to the audiobook while I was running, and I definitely remember coming to a dead stop at one point and asking myself, “Wait, what just happened?!” Needless to say, I was eager to see what this dynamic writing duo would come up with in their second outing, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL. Fortunately, their new stand-alone thriller does not disappoint. It offers the same kinds of intense psychological insights and rapidly shifting perspectives that drew so many readers to their earlier work.

As with their previous effort, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL focuses on two women whose lives become increasingly entangled. As the novel opens, Jessica Farris is barely making ends meet, working nonstop as an on-demand makeup artist for socialites and party girls. Her freelance gig must not only cover her New York City rent but also help fund expensive therapy for her younger sister, who suffered brain damage as a child. When Jessica accidentally learns about a lucrative research study being conducted at NYU --- for which she fits the subject profile --- she finagles her way into it…and into a situation far more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

"AN ANONYMOUS GIRL effectively utilizes alternating points of view to keep readers intrigued and alter their understanding about what’s actually happening and who’s manipulating whom --- and why."

The study is being conducted by a Dr. Shields --- who Jessica assumes at first is a man, but soon learns is a beautiful, glamorous, brilliant woman whose life seems utterly unlike Jessica’s own. Dr. Shields’ research focuses on the psychological components of moral and ethical conundrums --- and Jessica’s thoughtful responses to the study’s computerized questions pique the doctor's interest. Or at least that’s what Jessica assumes.

But perhaps something else about Jessica has actually drawn Dr. Shields’ attention --- and soon, for whatever reason, the two women are meeting in person, not just through the filter of a computerized survey. Dr. Shields continues to remunerate Jessica handsomely for her participation in the study --- even as the kinds of tasks she is asked to carry out stray further and further from the rigors of traditional psychological research, not to mention from her own comfort zone.

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL effectively utilizes alternating points of view to keep readers intrigued and alter their understanding of what’s actually happening and who’s manipulating whom --- and why. Along the way, the subject of the study --- and the increasingly high stakes for Jessica’s participation in it --- also addresses complicated and discussion-worthy ethical dilemmas, not to mention questions about personal responsibility, guilt, and the personal and professional boundaries between therapist and client.

Even if AN ANONYMOUS GIRL does not possess the same stop-you-in-your-tracks kinds of dramatic twists as THE WIFE BETWEEN US, it still offers plenty of compelling drama and chilling insights into the mindsets of two very complicated women.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 11, 2019

An Anonymous Girl
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen