Monica Byrne's The Girl in the Road is an ambitiously inventive story set against a backdrop you rarely see in speculative fiction. We're plugged into this world through the eyes of two characters—Meena and Mariama—who tell us their stories in alternating sections. It's the driving point of the narrative to find out how these two women are connected. Fair warning: The novel does drag in the middle. For a while it feels like nothing is happening. In fact, much of the pivotal action takes place not in the present but in flashbacks and recollections. For example, Meena keeps walking on the trail, stopping occasionally at "seasteads" along the way, and yet much of her story actually happens in her memory. In the present, we're treated to a lot of hallucinatory monologues and self-talk. This awkward pacing made for a boring read in parts.
The Girl in the Road is built on parallel mysteries, which finally come crashing together at the end of the book. The convergence is shocking. It's a vision quest of a novel that explores identity, memory, sexuality, and trauma.