Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Book review #39
Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles
Rating: Five stars (refer to the rating system on the right)

Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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. 

Whoa. Lessons From a Dead Girl is one hard uncomfortable read, but nothing less than amazing.  At first I wasn't sure if I could actually read this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I did have to put the book several times to digest what had just happened. But a couple of minutes is the longest I could put it down, this is an extremely addictive book.

Laine is a plain, ordinary girl, with nothing interesting really going on with her. She wasn't always the most confident. When the beautiful, popular Leah Greene decides to be her best friend, Laine couldn't be happier. They both vowed to be best friends forever. Little did she know what being Leah's best friend really meant. Leah was one of those people...who you couldn't say no to. From early on, Leah forced Laine to "practice" in the closet, for when they got older. This extremely effected Laine. She had weird feelings about it, she hated it, but couldn't get her to stop.  This went on until eighth grade year. Finally the two of them grew apart,but Leah keeps popping up reminding her of the past. Laine tries to move one, to convince herself of her true feelings, and to ultimately find forgiveness

As you can tell, this is a story about complicated childhood friendships, abuse, and even self-discovery. What made this story so different from all the others, is that it gave all parts to the story, not just one side. It tries to really make you understand why someone would do such a thing by giving you enough information about Leah's situation. Leah Greene is a very complicated person and deep down a sad person. She has suffered through things worse than Laine ever has, but I feel like I will still never understand her.

Laine- I felt so strongly for her. Her emotions and feelings were so well described. She was trapped and there was nothing she could really do about it. In a strange way I do know the feeling of having that friend that you secretly don't like, but is impossible to get out of your life. But that's nothing compared with what Laine went through. Not only did Leah do those things in the closest, but she made her do all kinds of things she didn't want to do, ultimately scarring and effecting Laine forever. Laine felt uncomfortable around girls, not just uncomfortable, but  scared that everyone was going to do what Leah did.

I love how the reader got enough background background information to get the whole jest of the story. The story began with childhood memories, from elementary school, going all the way into high school. The scenes in the closet/any encounter with Leah were extremely hard to read. I cringed, wanting to do anything to help Laine. I was even very scared of Leah! You never knew what to expect with her. Oh and an added bonus is a lesson at the beginning of each chapter. These were lessons Leah taught Laine-and surprisingly they were very true.

This story will be burned into my mind for a very long time, if not forever. I was having a hard time rating this one, but in the end the fact that I still found myself thinking about this days later made this one a five star book. I really applaud Jo Knowles for writing about such a hard subject...so flawlessly. Lessons From a Dead Girl is a very powerful book, that explores more than one important issue. If you think your brave enough to handle this one, I strongly recommend it.

9 comments:

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

Wow this sounds like a punch in the gut read. I've never heard of it. I might have to check it out sometime. Thanks for the review my dear :)

My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

great review and I'm going to adding this book to my pile.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Excellent review :)

Emidy said...

Whoa, this sounds so disturbing! But I'm really curious, now. Gotta read it.

prophecygirl said...

What a great review! I've been wanting to read this for a while, so thanks very much for the reminder :)

Kelly said...

This sounds like a great read, I've added it to my wishlist, thanks! :)

Keitra said...

Well thank you! it took awhile to find the layout. haha. i like it too. ;)

the book is now one of my new faves! and i'm glad you liked the review, i tried a different approach this time.

-keitra.

Stephanie said...

Sara, you write beautiful, thoughtful reviews, highlighting the complex psychology in novels. You've piqued my interest in this one, though it sounds gut wrenching.

Bere said...

Sara I have to say that I love, love your reviews! This one sounds very interesting and I'm intriguied. Sounds like it was an intense read. I think I would like to check it out. Adding it to my wishlist. Fantastic review Sara, thank you =)