The Girl from the Papers – Jennifer L. Wright

The Girl from the Papers by Jennifer L. Wright
Also by this author: If It Rains
Published by Tyndale on August 8, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Historical
Buy on Amazon

Inspired by one of America's most notorious couples, Bonnie and Clyde, Jennifer L. Wright delivers a riveting tale set during the public enemy era of the Great Depression.
Beatrice Carraway has dreams. Although she's aged out of the childhood pageant circuit, she's intent on carrying her talents all the way to the big screen--if only she can escape the poverty of West Dallas first. But as the Great Depression drags the working class further and further under, Beatrice struggles just to keep herself, her mother, and her younger sister afloat. After a string of failed auditions, she feels defeated.
And then in walks Jack Turner. Though Beatrice is determined to pull herself up by her bootstraps, Jack has decided on a different path out of the gutters. It isn't long before Beatrice is swept into an exciting and glamorous life of crime beside the man she loves. Keeping one step ahead of the law, she sees her dreams of fame come true when her name and picture are plastered in newspapers across the country. Yet as their infamy grows, the distance between them widens. While Jack begins seeking bigger payouts and publicity, Beatrice starts to long for a safe, quiet life and something deeper to fill the emptiness in her soul. But when the danger of Jack's schemes ratchets up, Beatrice fears her dreams--and her future--will end up going down in a hail of bullets.

I have always been fascinated by crime and investigations. When I was younger, I’d watch shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigations…even when I wasn’t supposed to. My parents didn’t want me to see the bodies, the blood, the violence. At the time, I knew everything on the TV shows was fake, so nothing bothered me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve never lost that curiosity, between watching things like Criminal Minds and reading books by John Douglas. All that to say, my intrigue focuses more on the afterward—how do we catch the bad guy?—rather than the during, the crime itself. But an exception: the mob. Organized crime.

When I went to Las Vegas in 2021 for a conference, I had no interest in casinos, gambling or shows. I spent five hours at the Mob Museum, aka the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. One exhibit: Bonnie and Clyde. The Girl from the Papers by Jennifer L. Wright pulled me into its story from the moment I read the plot summary, and it never let go. Wright writes historical fiction as though born to do it. She took threads of Bonnie and Clyde’s true story and wove them together into her own unique novel.

Beatrice Carraway wants to be a star, but life hasn’t cooperated no matter how hard she’s worked. When she meets Jack Turner, everything changes. She still wants her name in lights, but now she finds her fulfillment—and thrill—in love and crime. Eventually, the papers do feature her escapades, just…not in the way she originally intended. And by the book’s conclusion, she wants nothing to do with it anymore. This was not how her life with Jack was supposed to be.

My favorite part of The Girl from the Papers by Jennifer L. Wright: Its redemptive arc. Wright does not swerve from the “big questions” of Christianity. She portrays hard histories, and how flawed interpretations of “Christianity”—I put that in quotes for a reason—can impact people’s views of faith, sometimes forever. But we plant seeds. Living out the love of Jesus should make us shine as cities on hills. Wright demonstrates in this novel how Christians can help or hinder. How we can demonstrate the love of Jesus outside of a church. Faith should be based on an individual’s relationship with Christ. The Girl from the Papers exemplifies how one—one Christian—can turn someone’s life around if you’re willing to care.

The Girl from the Papers is beautiful. Entertaining with likeable characters, Jennifer L. Wright presents a story that readers of any genre will enjoy. Wright’s newest novel is quite possibly my favorite book of 2023 thus far.