Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lessons From A Dead Girl

Knowles, Jo. 2007. Lessons From A Dead Girl.

Are you sensing a 2007 trend or two? Yes, death and dying seems to be one of the more contagious themes this year. This one isn't quite here or there. Meaning, while the title says "dead" a good indication of the dark theme, the real theme is sexual abuse. (With a secondary theme of lies, secrets, betrayal, etc.) Laine is a young girl that was sexually abused for several years by one of her "close" friends. Leah Greene, the abuser, is a girl with a lot of issues. But Laine and Leah stay best friends for years and years. It's not until their high school years that the two begin to go their separate ways. But even once the abuse has stopped, Laine is still affected by it. Haunted by it. Ashamed of it. Burdened by it. It is her and Leah's secret. No one knows. No one suspects. In the first chapter--or maybe the second--Laine's mother shares the news that Leah is dead. The rest of the book is Laine's reaction to that news. Her relief. Her shame. Her guilt. Her confusion. Is it possible to forgive your abuser? Should you even try? What can Laine learn about Leah, learn from Leah? Can the dead really teach the living how to live?

Opening lines:

Leah Greene is dead.
Before my mother even answers the ringing telephone downstairs, I know.
"Hello?" I hear my mother say politely. "Yes? Yes, this is Laine's mother."
There is a long, quiet pause.
"Yes? A party? Drinking? Oh. . .well--"
Another pause.
"Leah Greene? What? Oh, my God! Are you sure? How?"
As I listen to her panicked voice, I feel the tiny bricks that have walled away certain memories continue to crumble. I squeeze my eyes shut and cover my ears. But the sound of my mother's cries downstairs pushes against the wall and loosens the mortar. All I see behind my eyelids is Leah. Leah with her red-glossed lips. Leah standing above me. Leah telling our secret to a crowded room of strangers and my only friends in the world. Leah walking away, leaving me in the rubble of my ruined life.
I hate you! I wish you were dead! I had screamed the words inside my head, as if I were seven and not seventeen. Somehow, I think she must have heard me.

Other reviews: Reading Rants, Stories of A Girl, Faerie Drink Reviews, YA Authors Cafe, A Life in Books.

Related Reads: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga.



soleil said...

that is so eerie. something similar happened to me all through grade school up to junior high but the girl wasn't my best friend by choice. we were thrown together by our parents. and then when my parents divorced my dad and her mom hooked up. there was no escaping her for years and years and years.
wow. okay, that just really frightened me for a second reading your summary.
sounds like it might be a good book although i don't know that i could read it.
on a lighter note, i really enjoyed your brownie post. wish i could have one of those brownies right now!

Anonymous said...

she didn't reveal her death until like the very end, because she didn't die until like the the 3rd to last chapter..
i just finished reading it.

cutiebear said...

I absolutely love this book.. I am the same age as the girls in this story and couldn't put it down from front to back.. It was AMAZING!!

Anonymous said...

i am 12 and i absolutely loved this book and i wish she would make a sequel without Leah dead.I also think it's creepy but exciting we Leah follows her throughout Laine's teenage years. I also finished it in 6 hours!!!