Georgia Avis dreams of working at Aspera, the world-class resort that looms over the town of Ketchum. But when Georgia finds the body of 13-year-old Ashley James in a ditch by the road that leads to Aspera, she’s thrown into investigating the secrets in Ketchum’s past—and in her own personal history. With help from Nora, Ashley’s grieving older sister, Georgia must decide how she fits into the complicated web of power that seems to run their world.
I’m the Girl is a slow convergence of overlapping mysteries: Who killed Ashley? What happened to Georgia’s mother when she worked at Aspera? And what was Georgia doing on the road when she discovered Ashley’s body, anyway?
As Georgia tries to track down Ashley’s killer, the adults around her offer a range of perspectives on a young woman’s place in the world. Matthew Hayes, Aspera’s owner, sees Georgia as a potential subordinate. His wife, Cleo, tries to teach Georgia how to use the objectification of women to her own advantage. Georgia’s mother, who died from cancer over a year earlier, always insisted that Georgia should ignore Aspera’s grandeur. And the lingering threat of Ashley’s murderer positions Georgia as nothing but another potential victim.
Although the novel’s plot hinges on solving its many mysteries, author Courtney Summers (Sadie) is just as interested in excavating the roles intimacy and power play in Georgia’s life. Georgia is determined to defy her mother’s expectations, but she soon finds herself at the mercy of people and organizations much more powerful than she. As Georgia uncovers more about Ashley’s life and comes to terms with her own identity as a young queer woman, she confronts physical and sexual abuse, corrupt law enforcement and stark disparities of wealth. Ultimately, Georgia must determine how to participate in these systems—or whether she wants to participate at all.
I’m the Girl is raw, vulnerable and, at times, difficult to read, although Summers demonstrates that hope and joy are possible even amid the struggle against seemingly insurmountable power. Readers are left to reckon with provocative questions: Can you accept the ways of the world you live in? If not, what will you do about it?