Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Book Review: Lessons from a Dead Girl

Title Lessons from a Dead Girl

Author Jo Knowles

Release Date October 9, 2007

An unflinching story of a troubled friendship — and one girl’s struggle to come to terms with secrets and shame and find her own power to heal.

Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery. Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn’t Laine make it stop sooner? In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laine is left to explore the devastating lessons Leah taught her, find some meaning in them, and decide whether she can forgive Leah and, ultimately, herself.

Lessons from a Dead Girl could have been an amazing story. Instead, the book missed the mark and it felt like wasted potential to me.

Unlike many other books that deal with sexual abuse, this book is unique in the sense that the sexual abuse takes place between two peers. It also explores (very briefly, in my opinion) how sexual abuse can be so confusing. How can something be abusive and wrong, but still physically feel good? There's also the point that an abused person possibly (but certainly not always) continues the cycle and abuses someone else.

So, what didn't I enjoy about this rather unique story? It all felt very surface to me. Of course, I'm not sure how much truth depth could have been explored in such a short book (~215 pages), but we're left with not really knowing anything about our characters other than how sexual abuse has completely thrown their life off a normal course. And, honestly, I felt like Leah's death was only used to end the story rather abruptly (and poorly) instead of providing some sort of resolution for both girls.


2 out of 5 stars

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