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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
What Little Girls Are Made Of by C.A. Whittingham is a crime thriller that centers around and bravely confronts the last literary taboo, pedophilia. The narrative dances neatly throughout the point of view of the antagonist and perpetrator, Stefan Mademan, who is being early paroled from a twenty-year prison sentence for an unthinkable network, and a woman with whom he has built a strong and enduring relationship, Elise Miles. It also provides the point of view of Mademan's victims and a young group that had been deceived into a fateful “camping trip” by upstanding members of their community who had won their trust. As the stories intertwine and converge, the reader comes to see what little girls are truly made of.
C.A. Whittingham has written a masterful story of heartbreak, resilience, and redress in What Little Girls Are Made Of. The approach toward a deeply painful and highly sensitive abomination is handled with the gifted, measured hand of a writer that knows how to balance depravity without resorting to sensationalism, and the result is exceptional. The children themselves are thoroughly developed in a short span of time, as are their circumstances which make each accessible to a ring of predators. Karen, Tessa, Michelle, and sweet little Dane come to life, as do the adult characters, particularly Elise and Shauna, who round out a compelling, character-driven plot. Fans of Lorenzo Carcaterra's Sleepers and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones will find a new favorite in this novel, just as I have.