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The Eighth Girl

Maxine Mei-Fung Chung
In Print
William Morrow (2020)

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This entry created 10 August 2023. Last revised on 10 August 2023.

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The Eighth Girl
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467 pages. Acknowledgments. About the author.

This is a novel about a young woman with multiple personalities, written by a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

As the novel begins, Alexa Wu is about to leap to her death, and it had something to do with being betrayed by her best friend, Ella.

The novel then flashes back, telling the story alternately from the perspective of Alexa, who is being treated for having multiple personalities, and her shrink, Daniel, who is trying to figure out what is going on with his patient.

Alexa lives with her stepmother Anna, and is close with her best friend Ella (and Ella's little sister, Grace). Because of abuse, Alexa has developed The Flock – the characters that reside in her brain, and sometimes take control of her. However, Alexa is increasingly blanking out and her personalities are fighting with each other. Even more worrisome is that Alexa can lose track of her personalities… or mistake them for actual people.

While Alexa is finally embarking on her dream career as a photographer, her friend Ella is increasingly making bad choices: Neglecting the little sister she cares for. Stealing clothes. Working at a strip club to earn the downpayment for a new apartment. Can Alexa save her friend from the seedy world of stripping, porn, prostitution, and sex trafficking?

Meanwhile, her shrink Daniel is dealing with his own problems: loneliness after the death of his wife, disappointment at his daughter's new boyfriend, his past history of substance abuse and family conflicts, a demanding new girlfriend, and a growing sexual attraction to his newest patient.

The author seems to know her subject, and writes excellently with an eye for key details. The book sucked me in from the start, and the suspense kept ratcheting up.

Note that, due to the subject material, this book is not suitable for children. It depicts the seedy world of sex clubs in some detail.

Can you wargame it? No, but it might give you insight into characters dealing with psychological trauma.

I almost loved this book. I thought the character of Alexa was fascinating. However, I felt the book became repetitive towards the end, the twist ending was not unexpected, and the ending was a let-down.

Reviewed by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian.