They flocked to the old Etruscan city of Grifonia to enjoy a year away from their regular universities. But the learning was only part of the pull. They were also seeking the opportunity to cast aside their identities and constraints and reinvent themselves.

Tabitha Deacon, an Irish girl attending university in Nottingham, had many dreams about this very special experience. So when she was swept up into a “club” (the B-4) of posh girls with secrets and their own very unique agenda, she was unprepared for what happened next.

Blinded by the wonderful feeling of acceptance, a feeling of being special she gleaned from belonging to this popular group, Tabitha very carelessly ignored her own judgment, threatening her very safety.

What would then transpire to catapult Tabitha down a very slippery path? Who among the young people she had met, from the handsome Italians to the charming American, could she even trust? And at what risk would she continue in pursuit of her longings? How and why did her reckless behavior end badly? And what dark mysteries of the past added to the danger? How do the snippets about “mercy killings” add to the story?

Tabitha was incredibly innocent and gullible, in my opinion. While that made me feel protective of her, I was also frustrated by her actions, wanting to shout at her. To tell her to be careful about the friends she chose. She and her roommates didn’t even bother to lock their doors, even though they weren’t in the best neighborhood. And their clubbing every night and falling into bed with any man they met definitely added to the sense that no good end was in sight. The dark mood of the story and the foreshadowing of what was to come felt menacing throughout Abroad: A Novel, the primary reason I kept turning those pages.

And because we knew, from the beginning, that Tabitha’s plight was to be murdered, the story became even more compelling, especially since our first person narrator was Tabitha herself. After her death, she seemingly described how everything unfolded, from her perspective, and we saw more clearly how everything fit together. As much as I enjoyed most of the book, there were parts I could have done without, especially the dynamics between the annoying B-4 girls. 3.5 stars.


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