Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL by Jo Knowles

I wanted to read this book because I know it is controvesial and banned in some schools. I learned about it on the SpeakLoudly website which is dedicated to preserving quality Young Adult literature and preventing censorship.

The story is told from the point of view of sixteen year old Lainey who is reflecting on her turbulent friendship with the beautiful Leah, who recently passed away in an accident. There was always an off-balance of power in the girls' relationship from the time their friendship started in fifth grade. Leah was cute, smart, popular and from a wealthy family. Lainey was invisible and tom-boyish. She was shocked and elated when Leah reached out to her and decided to be her best friend. For a few years, the girls were inseperable, but in this case, that was not a good thing. Leah was abusive and controlling toward Lainey. As time went on, Leah's aggression grew. Eventually, Lainey began making new friends while Leah separated herself from people and tumbled down a self-destructive path. Leah's tormenting eventually climaxes at a party where the secrets of their friendship are exposed in front of everyone.

This book deals with some very heavy issues; child on child abuse, drugs and alchohol, social differences and questions of sexual orientation. Even though the subject matter is dark, seeing the way the two main characters develop is fascinating. Lainey becomes stronger, leaving the reader with a feeling of hope. I also think that teens deal with these issues in real-life, so reading about them in literature is a good thing. It helps them to know they are not alone and shows them healthy ways to deal with their problems.

Overall, I give Lessons From A Dead Girl...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 5 bookmarks
Moral Lessons - 4 bookmarks
Age Appropriateness - Will depend on the child. Parents may want to read this one to judge whether their teen is mature enough to handle the subject matter. That said, there is no graphic descriptions. Most of the abuse is implied.
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Anastacia Baranova (Leah), Vanessa Marano (Lainey)


  1. Sounds like a powerful read. Great review!

  2. Whoa! Sounds heavy. I'll have to check this out.