Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles | Book Review #151

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.451220

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.

TRIGGER WARNING!: Rape, Rape Mention, Pedophilia, Self Harm, Blood, Drug Use.

Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles is a eye-opening book. Not only that, but I truly feel that this book gives a slight insight to people’s lives who are similar to Laine’s life. I read on the inside flap of the book that there’s a lot of self-discovery, and honestly that’s incredibly true. There’s so much that happens, so much that I can’t talk about due to spoilers.

Lessons from a Dead Girl is a heavy book that I won’t forget anytime soon.

There are definite spoilers beyond this point. You’ve been warned!

The story starts with the After of what happened. We’re not given a reason as to what has happened. The rest of the book leads up to that point, ending with what had happened, and then a little bit of closer at the end.

There is sexual assault in this novel. I can’t 100% remember if it was detailed, but I don’t think it was. There’s not just one incident though, there’s multiple times that Laine gets raped. And I’ll be completely honest. The first time this happened I was confused, and it wasn’t until a few chapters later when it repetitively happened that I had a moment of realization.

I’m going to say that Lessons from a Dead Girl was hard for me to read. Because it was. Lessons from a Dead Girl isn’t a happily ever after story. Not in the slightest. Lessons from a Dead Girl is a serious novel, dealing with serious topics. I didn’t laugh once in this novel, and if I’m to be completely honest with you, I’m glad that I didn’t because Lessons from a Dead Girl is a heavy and depressing book. The only light I saw at the end of the tunnel was right at the end of the book.

We the reader, are introduced to Laine the moment the book starts. And from the start, we see that there’s some sort of anxiety that Laine has. But then the story goes back in time to when Laine was in elementary school. And then the book will skip a year, and skip another year, just to give you some insight to how Laine grew up and to show us everything that has happened to Laine up until the present. Once the story hits the high school years the storyline slows down a bit, giving us time to know Laine more, and to experience what her teen years were like for her. Through this we see that she’s branching off from Leah.

Looking back on the book, I can now see the signs of how everything started. It’s painfully obvious that Leah was raped on multiple occasions. This book. This book isn’t a lovey-dovey book at all. Lessons from a Dead Girl is a book that deals with real life situations. Real life problems. From people you would, and maybe you wouldn’t suspect. Maybe that’s the point of the book. Maybe the point of this book was to show people in Laine’s situation that their situation doesn’t have to be forever, and that you can heal.

I’m happy with how the book turned out. The plot took a turn that I wasn’t expecting (if you’ve read the book, I totally didn’t mean for this sentence to become a pun!), but a turn nonetheless, and I have to say, with what how the story played out, it’s a very fitting ending. A sad ending for that character, but an ending.

I’m so happy that Laine has her friends, I could cry.

Thank you for reading my review of Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles.

Happy Reading!

I’m just left with a ton of questions that I don’t think will ever be answered. (Major spoilers my friends)

Does Leah’s parents know that Sam; their trusted friend and companion, know that Sam was raping their daughters for years on end? If they did, what does Sam have over their heads? Why didn’t their parents stop the rapes, stop Sam from ever coming over? They acted totally doe-eyed when Sam was there. And they drank more than usual (apparently) when he was there, leading me to believe that they know. Which pisses me off beyond belief.

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