Ballad for a Mad Girl
Note: I was given this book for review by NetGalley. This, however, does not influence my review in any manner. If you know me, you know this is true because I am full of opinions.
The primary focus of “Ballad for a Mad Girl” is on the character Grace Foley. Grace starts feeling that something is going on with her. She isn’t sure if she is simply going crazy or if something is reaching out to her to solve a previously unsolved crime. She feels herself spiraling out of control, but she just isn’t sure.
I selected this from NetGalley to read because I was interested in the aspect of the book that seemed to focus on mental health and also that there appeared to be a mystery within the book that may be interesting. This was my initial feeling on the book and why I chose to read it on the get go.
This book was hard to read, honestly. The way it was written had me disconnected for parts of it. This is because in one chapter there could be five changes of scene or time, which distracted from understanding what was going on in the chapter or scene you were reading. Also sometimes it felt like the writer was not sure what she was writing either. It felt like there was a bit of a distance from what was actually occurring between the plot and the character for a vast majority of the book. I do not enjoy feeling disconnected. I came very close to not finishing this book, but the “mystery” aspect of this book kept me engaged. The mystery aspect is an unsolved mystery involving a girl that went missing named Hannah Holt that Grace somehow feels connected with throughout the vast majority of the book. I wanted to know what happened to Hannah, which drove me forward in my reading. I kept reading, even though I kept rolling my eyes through many parts of it.
The part of the book I thought I had connected with turned out to be twisted by the end of the book as well. It made me realize that I had not connected with any of the characters in the book, which for me I have to identify, connect or at the very least like one of the character. I did not feel that with this book. I did not connect with any character on any meaningful level because most of them were either mean, throw away characters, or just didn’t feel vital enough to the overall plot of the book. There should have been a more consistent b-plot through this book that didn’t feel “YA” forced. The reason I say “YA” forced is because the book seems to want to be part of that genre because it focuses a lot on Grace’s relationship with her various friends, but most of them I rolled my eyes at as well. They were just there to be against Grace through the vast majority of the book, it felt like.
Now, I want to be clear, I know it sounds like I am being very critical of this book, but there were elements of this book that I enjoyed. I did like the mystery aspect of the book, as I stated. I enjoyed the fact that Wakefield engaged me enough to keep me wanting to know what happened to Hannah. It was hard, however, through those moments were it was not the focus of the story and seemed to focus more on if Grace was actually losing her mind. I wanted to like this book for the mental health aspect, but it definitely felt “wrong” or badly represented here. I don’t want to delve more into that because of aspects of the book that come out near the end that may call into question a lot of the “mental health” aspects that were prevalent near the beginning and middle of the book. I enjoyed the fact that Grace went to try to find information on her own for the mystery and I felt that Wakefield definitely could write a focused mystery book (think Janet Evanovich or James Patterson!) and be successful. She, however, would have to be very focused on what her plot points are and where she wants the book to go. The ending of the book left me a little shocked at where she decided to go with what happened to Hannah and other aspects of the mystery. It isn’t where I thought she would go and I am still (even a couple of weeks later) not sure that I appreciate it or liked it. I also want to state finally that I would actually read another Vikki Wakefield book, even though I am being critical of this work, because I feel that she actually could be a very decent writer and I think that this showed elements of that, but it just wasn’t as well-executed as I would have liked. These are my feelings though and I think that you should find a copy of this book and form your own opinion on it! That is the beauty of reading, you will have your own experience with a book and may love it, so take my words and guide you to see if we share the same opinion and then formulate your own opinion. If you do read this come back and let me know what YOU thought of it!
I would not recommend this to people that want a literary “masterpiece” because this isn’t that type of book. This is a book that hasn’t fully found its own identity and if that bothers you just don’t check out this book. Don’t purchase it. You will be disappointed.
I would recommend this book to people that enjoy elements of a YA book but do not want that to be your primary focus. Also if you like a mystery this one will keep you engaged enough to get to the last page. It kept me engaged for that long, which is a good benchmark on if a book is at least okay.
Vikki Wakefield has written several other books, as you can see in the image above. You may want to check out her other works if you enjoy this book or if this sounds like a book that you would enjoy. I know that while I had a so-so relationship with this book, I do want to read one of her other works. I definitely will be giving them a look!