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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

Category Archives: lessons from a dead girl

Jo Knowles’ Lessons from a Dead Girl is heartbreaking, terrifying, and compelling all at once. The story of the intense friendship between Leah Greene and her off-and-on best friend, Laine McCarthy, Lessons from a Dead Girl opens with the death of Leah Greene. What follows grips the reader to the end.

Charismatic, beautiful, popular, and rich, Leah has it all, according to Laine. She’s taken aback when Leah declares them best friends for life, and soon their friendship takes a dark turn. Troubled Leah begins sexually abusing Laine, and manipulating her, for reasons that become sadly clear too late. Laine learns Leah’s life is consumed with secrets and hidden demons that soon send Leah spiraling beyond Laine’s grasp.

An incredible debut novel, Jo Knowles’ prose captures each visceral emotion between Leah and Laine, and as Laine watches Leah self-destruct, so do we, with each turn. Lessons from a Dead Girl‘s depth is almost at times, too much, and Knowles handles this well, for each dark incident is juxtaposed with lighter times for Laine. This allows the reader to emotionally connect with the book, both with Leah and Laine, so our emotions are not adhered to one character, but rather the situation and what caused Leah’s secrets, and what lessons she bestows onto Laine, in the aftermath.

I would recommend this book for any individual working with troubled youth, as a way of illustrating the importance of sharing secrets that may harm.

Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles is available in hardback now from Candlewick Press.

Copy for review graciously provided by the publisher.