The Lives of Desperate Girls - Mackenzie Common | ARC Review

Book Details:
Pages: 300
Format: ARC Paperback
Publication: Penguin Teen 
Release Date: September 19, 2017
How I got the copy: Publisher
Rating: 1/5 

One small, northern community. Two girls gone -- one missing, the other dead. A riveting coming-of-age debut young adult novel for fans of Everything I Never Told You and All the Bright Places. 

Sixteen-year-old Helen Commanda is found dead just outside Thunder Creek, Ontario. Her murder goes unremarked, except for the fact that it may shed light on the earlier disappearance of Chloe Shaughnessy. Chloe is beautiful, rich and white. Helen is plain, and from the reservation. They had nothing in common except that they were teenage girls from an unforgiving small town. Only Chloe's best friend Jenny Parker knows exactly how unforgiving, but she's keeping some dangerous secrets of her own. 
Jenny begins looking for answers about Helen's life and death, trying to understand larger questions about her town and her best friend. But what can a teenage girl really accomplish where adults have failed? And how much is Jenny actually complicit in a conspiracy of silence?

I've been putting off writing this review for 4 weeks... Which is insane but I've been dreading to write a review because I really didn't enjoy this but wanted too so bad. There was so much potential at the beginning but with each chapter, I enjoyed it less and had problems with something.

The Lives of Desperate Girls is a story about a girl discovering racism, and realizing the bigger world outside of her small town and the wrong in her town. This book is set in the present and past allowing us to read about what happened the year before and why Chloe might have disappeared. 

What attracted me to this book: 
  1. Set in Ontario
  2. It's a murder mystery
  3. Topics include indigenous issues
  4. Compared to We Were Liars (which I loved) and All the Bright Places (how?)

While this book revolves around the disappearance of Chloe, the main Character's (Jenny) best friend, it also revolves around Helen, the found dead girl just outside Thunder Creek, while also being about Jenny's personal and romantic life. There are many subplots instead of focusing on the most important issues (I think) the author was trying to shine a light on.

From the beginning, Jenny is withholding information from the police, which could or couldn't help solve the disappearance of her best friend and/or the murder of the other girl but Jenny's reasoning to keep quiet is its Chloe's secret and she shouldn't tell anyone. 

There were times I needed more detail about characters to understand why things were being said about them, like calling a side character a hottie but a weirdo without detailing why is difficult to understand. Also, having shared classrooms and schools with classmates from elementary to high school I found it difficult to believe Jenny didn't know anything about some of her classmates in the same grade.

I don't want to include spoilers so I'll be vague. This book talks about rape and rape is a big deal. I didn't feel this book portrayed rape as such a big issues (probably because it wanted to focus on indigenous issues). The rapists in this book are portrayed as having raped because they are young and don't know any better. It's said bullies (including these rapists) would outgrow being awful people. There's a moment where Jenny imagines these rapists going to University parties being normal young adults and NOT ONCE does it occurs to Jenny they would rape at parties again. No no no no no no! Young people don't need to read that rape is okay.

Honestly, I think the author was trying to leave the main focus on indigenous issues and if that's the case I don't think rape should have been an issue included in this book, maybe it should have been bullying instead.

The book was slow, the characters weren't very strong and there were too many issues brushed upon instead of a few focused on.


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