An artfully ripped-from-the-headlines tale of college girls studying in Italy, Abroad is a riveting story about the intersection between jealousy and friendship.

Taz, an Irish girl studying in the ancient Etruscan town of Grifonia, spends her first weeks wandering around the city, lonely and lost. When she’s taken in by a group of Brits who, while not particularly kind, always seem to have money and find adventure, Taz is flattered. She spends more and more of her time with the self-named “B4,” who insist on buying her clothes and taking her to exclusive parties.

Taz’s American roommate, Claire, senses the girls are no good and warns Taz. But Taz, who’s never been part of an in-crowd, can’t bring herself to break it off, and things sour further when Taz and Claire fall for the same man. Their once-simple friendship hurtles toward an inevitable conclusion.

Abroad is gorgeously written, with a steady drumbeat of dread infusing every page. Loosely inspired by the Amanda Knox case, it is astonishingly self-assured and perfectly paced without ever taking on a whiff of tabloid sensationalism. Author Katie Crouch (Girls in Trucks) captures the intoxicating—and sometimes dangerous—freedom of being a young student with seemingly limitless choices.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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