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.
Lessons From a Dead Girl was one of the most haunting books I have read in a long time. It was honest and dark, Knowles told Lainey’s story with strong emotion. From the first page I was pulled into the book. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’d never read a book dealing with this kind of subject. It was hard to put down and I felt for all the characters. Almost all of them were dealing with something. Mainly Leah, who was dealing with so much. Even so, I had a hard time feeling sorry for her. Especially for how much of Lainey’s life she ruined. Abuse by friends is something I’ve never heard about, and Knowles presented the idea, so that the reader was in the book. I was there, horrified by what was happening, feeling all of Lainey’s emotions. Lessons From a Dead Girl was descriptive and emotional, with a plot line that tugged the reader in. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers, since Knowles didn’t spare any details. She wasn’t overly descriptive, but enough to the point that you could imagine what was going on. Overall I am really glad I read this book. It informed me about something I knew little about, and made me eager to read Jumping Off Swings, Knowles’s other book, which I am sure is going to be just as emotional and heart wrenching.
There was hardly ever a time when I could put this book down. I read it straight through in a couple of hours and when I was finished I just sat back and thought about the book. The characters, plot, emotions, everything. It all stuck in my head long after I finished. Lainey’s experience will make all the readers feel for her and hate the evil in the book. At times I hated Leah, but other times I just had to think about her perspective. It was hard since Lainey was the narrator, but by the end I could kind of understand everyone’s perspectives. The ending was really sad as well, but it was the right ending. I don’t think I really did justice on this novel or how I felt about it, but if I can say one thing it’s that you should definitely pick up Lessons From a Dead Girl soon. It was a fantastic debut novel, and I’m anxious to read more by Jo Knowles.