The story she weaves in exquisite language is as tragic and ugly as it is engrossing ... This story is at heart a Southern Gothic—a Southern Hemisphere Gothic—a tale of stymied sexuality and buried secrets ... The events of the night the girls died are related by a cast of dubious witnesses, secretive family members and drunken and abusive police officers, all of whom Faleiro interviews and brings to life on the page ... The Good Girls is a puzzle with a surprise at the end. It’s a riveting, terrible tale, one all too common, but Faleiro’s gorgeous prose makes it bearable ... This feminist document looks straight at men’s twisted obsession with controlling female sexuality.
So father, uncle, and cousin say nothing, nor do they go directly to the home of the boy who was reported to have been with the girls. Faleiro sums it up: 'They didn’t because it wasn’t just the girls’ honor that was at stake, it was the family’s too. And the family had to live in the village.' It is an astute observation in a book that has a good many of them ... When community leaders no longer have sole access to information, they no longer have access to exclusive power. The Good Girls presents a stunning example of just how this confrontation between new technology and old systems of shame and honor takes place ... The mastery of Faleiro’s narrative is in the dexterity with which she presents a deeply complex story, refusing to turn to reductive and singular themes to make her point. The investigation that she presents to readers in The Good Girls is not just the story of an honor crime or a caste killing or a clash between traditional mores and modern technology; it is, instead, all of these things at once ... Literary nonfiction has long been a genre dominated by the white and Western, so Faleiro’s foray into it is particularly venerable. In The Good Girls, she accomplishes the pioneering feat of taking this genre to a new and different place, using its simultaneous capacities for facts and feelings to capture the moment of a community’s transformation.
Faleiro has a talent for ramifying plots and slippery characters—for a narrative that resists easy formulation ... In brisk chapters, some just a few pages long, with the sort of headings one associates with Victorian novels, we glide swiftly, smoothly, only to realize that we’re not approaching a clearing but being led into a darker, more tangled story ... transfixing; it has the pacing and mood of a whodunit, but no clear reveal; Faleiro does not indict the cruelty or malice of any individual, nor any particular system. She indicts something even more common, and in its own way far more pernicious: a culture of indifference that allowed for the neglect of the girls in life and in death.