Book Review: The Girl in the Road, by Monica Byrne

Originally published in the June 13, 2014 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. Reprinted here with permission. If you don't already receive it, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

In her debut novel, The Girl in the Road, Monica Byrne introduces a near-futuristic Earth where global
power has consolidated in East Asia and political tensions are shockingly high. In India, a young woman named Meena wakes in her bed with snakebites on her chest. The orphaned daughter of Ethiopian parents, she assumes political antagonists are out to kill her and decides to flee. She heads for a manmade energy bridge known as "the Trail" that spans the sea between Mumbai and Djibouti, planning to brave the thousands of kilometers alone, on foot--a journey that no one has ever completed. At the same time, Miriama, a young slave girl in western Africa, runs away from her master and seeks refuge in a truck convoy carrying oil to Ethiopia.

The Girl in the Road alternates between Meena's and Miriama's stories, highlighting the significant differences between the two women, but also making their commonalities apparent. Given the first-person narrative, it is easy to confuse the two protagonists as their timelines become blurred, but it's hard to believe this was unintentional. While the stories of these two women are enticing in their own right, what is most impressive about Byrne's debut is the way she builds a story without ever telling readers outright what they are encountering. In this elusive way, she explores sexuality, memory, honesty and self-discovery. The Girl in the Road moves forward to a conclusion that offers as many questions as it does answers, but the one thing no reader will doubt is Byrne's place as a strong new voice in science fiction.


Thoughts from other bookworms:

"Girl in the Road is a Dizzying Journey," NPR Books
"Book Review: The Girl in the Road," Leswamme's Blog
"WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - May 21, 2014," Largehearted Boy


The Girl in the Road | Monica Byrne | Crown Books* | May 2014 | Hardcover | 336 pages


  1. I've had my eye on this book, and it sounds so original and intriguing!

  2. This book sounds very cool, similarity of the protagonists' names notwithstanding. (Seriously, it is iniquitous to have two protagonists whose names begin with the same letter. That is hard for brains.) Really looking forward to reading it.


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