An Anonymous Girl

Image of An Anonymous Girl: A Novel
Release Date: 
January 8, 2019
St. Martin's Press
Reviewed by: 

“The blending of two voices makes this psychological thriller a hair-raising tale.”

"What you don't know is how much we need each other."

Jessica Farris, a makeup artist for BeautyBuzz in New York City started her career in Broadway plays but realized she would earn more working independently. Now, the company supplies her clients and she goes to their homes to prepare them with their desired appearance for different occasions.

While at the apartment of two college girls, Taylor, one of her customers, gets a text message asking her to reaffirm the appointment for the following day to be a part of an ethics and morality study with Dr. Lydia Shields at NYU, receiving the compensation of $500.

Excited by their new looks, Taylor and her friend, rush to the bathroom to look in the mirror. Jessica notices Taylor's phone on the table, and after hearing Taylor say she would be having too much fun that night and be too drunk to go the next morning, Jess takes it upon herself to confirm the date.

She arrives at NYU thinking she'll pass herself off as Taylor, but seeing this is research on ethics, she cannot lie. Met by Dr. Shield's assistant, Ben, she is escorted to an empty classroom and seated at a desk containing a laptop. Advised to answer each question with honesty and forethought, Jessica deems this is an easy way to earn some much-needed cash. Her first inquiry is:

"Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?"

Jessica knows this is not an open-ended query. What does one consider a lie? Fibbing in order to not hurt someone's feelings or an outright falsehood?

As the questions become more involved, Jessica determines to complete this assignment, which continues the next day. She lives in a tiny studio apartment, yet she helps pay for her younger sister's therapy, which is expensive and she could use the cash.

Dr. Shields takes Jessica under her wing ,and soon Jessica is pulled into a web of deceit. She receives assignations to meet men she does not know. Perplexed about all this, Jessica is also drawn in by the charismatic doctor, and she cannot pass up the gifts and monetary offerings she is receiving from her.

One errand given to Jess is:

"The project you have become engaged in is about to evolve from an academic exercise into a real-life exploration on morality and ethics."

As Jessica performs her duties Dr. Shields postulates:

"You have proved your devotion today. Your text confirmed how much you need me.

"What you don't know is how much we need each other."

Caught in a tangled cat and mouse game of deception, Jessica is sent to seduce Dr. Shield's husband, which terrorizes her. What kind of amusement is Dr. Shield playing? Could she be in danger? Feeling used and manipulated, Jessica tries to break away, but this woman is too cunning to let Jess out of her grasp. As more facts present themselves, Jessica asks, who can I trust?

An Anonymous Girl is penned in two points of view, and it is easy to differentiate one author from another. The blending of two voices makes this psychological thriller a hair-raising tale.