Blog Tour Review: My Sweet Girl

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My Sweet Girl
Amanda Jayatissa

348 pages
Berkley Publishing
Published September 14, 2021

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Ratmalana, Sri Lanka


The shadows from the torch Maya held under her chin made her smile look evil, like the devil mask hung in the assembly hall to ward off the evil eye.

We were all too excited to sleep, so Maya called all the girls to her bunk to tell us ghost stories. I didn’t really want to listen. I’m too old to believe in ghosts. But I didn’t want to be the only one in bed when everyone else was all the way on the other side of the dormitory.

Lihini grabbed my hand and squeezed it. I gave it a squeeze back. She loved ghost stories, which I didn’t really understand. Why would anyone want to be afraid on purpose?

“Relax, Paloma,” she mouthed. I usually got annoyed when people told me to relax. Like saying the words was enough to make me forget what was upsetting me in the first place. As though ghosts and demons would just go away if we simply relaxed. But Lihini was my best friend. I could never get angry with her. I scooted a little closer to her on the floor. There was no such thing as ghosts. It just made me feel safe to be near her.

Maya needed to hurry up. If we got caught out of our beds, we would definitely be scolded. Maybe even punished. They might even cancel the visit tomorrow.

I took a deep breath and shook my head. They would never do that. We hadn’t gotten many visitors to the orphanage in a few months now. Tomorrow was important. Everyone told us so-our headmaster Perera sir, Miss Chandra, even Miss Sarah, our English teacher. We were to be on our best behaviour and make sure we knew exactly what we were supposed to do or say. Miss Chandra supervised the rehearsal today. Everything had to be perfect, and we were so excited that none of us could sleep.

Of course Maya would decide this was the best time to make it all about her. Sometimes I wondered if she even wanted to be adopted. She needed to be more responsible than this. She was twelve now, same as me. It’s not like we were little children anymore.

“She walks slowly. Her feet are bare and dirty and covered in scratches. She wears a long, white dress.” Maya purposely made her voice into a throaty whisper so every one of us leaned forward, barely breathing.

I knew this story. Vana-Mohini, or Mohini, as we call it. We’ve all heard it a million times. We’ve all told it a million times. But I still held tight to Maya’s words.

“There’s blood under her nails, and they are long and sharp, like talons.” She made a sudden clawing motion, and Lihini leaped back, her hands over her mouth.

We all giggled nervously.

“And her long, black hair hangs over her face, like this.” The torch flickered as Maya messed her hair over her face so just her eyes glinted through in the dim yellow light.

“Mohini walks only in the night, revealing herself to people who are all by themselves. Help me. Help me, she begs.” Maya made her voice high and raspy now, like when the chalk slips when you’re writing on a blackboard.

“Some people say Mohini’s eyes are red. Red as blood. And when you look into them, you can see straight into hell. And if you stop to help her, she smiles, and before you know it-“

Maya dropped the torch and lunged forward, wrapping her hands around Lihini’s throat. Lihini couldn’t help it this time. Her small scream rang like an alarm through the dormitory.

I pulled Lihini away from Maya and put my arms around her. If I could have slapped Maya, I definitely would, but there wasn’t time.

“Haiyyo! Quickly, everyone, to bed before we get caught,” I hissed, getting Lihini to her feet and pushing her into her bunk.

Thankfully, the other girls followed.

We all lay very, very still for a few minutes. I could hear nervous panting echoing through the dormitory. Maya really did give everyone a shock. But thankfully none of the matrons came.

What on earth was she thinking? Getting us into trouble the night before Mr. and Mrs. Evans got here. Those were their names. Mr. and Mrs. Evans. Perera sir told us so we could memorise them. Evans-like when Miss Sarah told us about Mary Ann Evans, who went by George Eliot, who wrote The Mill on the Floss. I suppose I could understand why you would want to pretend to be someone else. But I could never, ever understand why someone wouldn’t want to go by the name Evans. It was beautiful.

I whispered it out loud.

Mr. and Mrs. Evans. I hoped they liked us. And me. I really hoped they liked me.

My Review:

I’ve been trying to diversify my reading and a thriller from a Sri Lankan author seemed the perfect fit. The book starts out with a bang with a scene in a bank. Paloma is trying to withdraw money to pay off her blackmailing roommate, but is reminded by the bank that she’s been cut off by her parents. When she reaches home, she finds her roommate is dead. Now I haven’t spoiled anything as all this happens in the first chapter. What we don’t know is why her roommate was blackmailing her, who killed him, and why she’s been cut off.

We, the reader, spend a lot of the book not knowing who to trust and this includes Paloma. She is on medication and while she shouldn’t, she is also drinking quite heavily. The book alternates between when Paloma as a child in a Sri Lankan orphanage and present day in America. The book is very character driven where we live in Paloma’s brain as she is just trying to figure out her place in the world. She’s playing a part to be nice and fit in, but as she struggles with life, we can see that it is an act. Paloma isn’t always a likable character but she is very compelling. I was really drawn to young Paloma and her place in the orphanage. And I was very interested to see how the sweet young girl at the orphanage developed into the present day adult Paloma.

The book holds back details about the past and Paloma’s current life, which allows for many surprises as these details eventually unfold. Some were small and I easily saw them coming, but others were much larger and caught me by surprise. This is definitely a slow burn story, but you are rewarded for investing the time.

If you like character driven, slow burn, psychological thrillers, you will unquestionably enjoy this book.

I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing for including my in their blog tour for the book.

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