Review: ‘The Third Rainbow Girl,’ by Emma Copley Eisenberg

'The Third Rainbow Girl' by Emma Copley Eisenberg; Hachette Books (336 pages, $27) (Hachette Books/TNS)
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By Chris Hewitt Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (TNS)

“The Third Rainbow Girl” by Emma Copley Eisenberg; Hachette Books (336 pages, $27)

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I was pretty sure I was going to love Emma Copley Eisenberg’s true crime/memoir hybrid on page one, labeled “True Things” because some of the stories she is told as she looks into a 40-year-old double murder turn out to not be true and because lies, time and fallible memories make some truths unreachable.

I was even surer when I reached a provocative notion on page four: “Every woman is a nonconsensual researcher looking into the word ‘misogyny.’?” And the deal was sealed when it became clear that, in addition to being a thorough reporter and creative thinker, Eisenberg is dryly funny, as in this bit about interstate relationships after the Civil War: “Virginia tried to sweet-talk West Virginia into getting back together, but West Virginia held strong.”

The murder Eisenberg investigates is of two women hitchhiking to a 1980 West Virginia be-in. A local bully was convicted of the crime, but Eisenberg’s gripping account offers a different solution, one rooted in the idea that injustice happens whenever we judge each other too quickly.

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