Monday Memos: Book Review of ‘The Lives of Desperate Girls’

“There was something so tragic about the acts of desperate girls. My helpless heart wished that I could write a different ending to the story, that I could have kept Chloe from disappearing and delivered Helen safely home. But trusting the wrong person wasn’t the only kind of desperate act. Wishing for the impossible could break you just as swiftly.Whether you wanted someone to love you or someone to protect you, it was hard to be a girl in need.” – Jenny Parker ‘The Lives of Desperate Girls’.

Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we’re going to review a Young Adult mystery book entitled ‘The Lives of Desperate Girls’ by Canadian author MacKenzie Common. ‘The Lives of Desperate Girls’ is MacKenzie Common’s debut book, and this copy was provided for review by Penguin Random House Canada. MacKenzie Common is an author who is originally from Newfoundland but grew up in Northern Ontario. I do need to add a trigger warning due the sexual assault that is present in this novel. There’s a lot we have to discuss about this book, but keep in mind that this will be a spoiler-free review so let’s get into it. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
‘The Lives of Desperate Girl’s centers around high school junior Jenny in the aftermath of the disappearance of her best friend Chloe. Jenny has always felt inferior to her friend due to Chloe’s wealth, popularity, and ease in social situations, in contrast to Jenny who is the exact opposite in all of these areas. Jenny has a hard time adjusting to life without Chloe, which is made more difficult when a local Indigenous girl named Helen is found murdered. Jenny soon begins to investigate Helen’s murder with a classmate named Tom, who has a reputation of being a loner in school. As Jenny finds out more about who Helen was as a person, she also learn more about her country’s history with racism, as well as the racism that still lingers to this day. Although Jenny is very dedicated to finding out who killed Helen and if this has anything to do with Chloe’s disappearance, she struggles with a big secret that she and Chloe have tried to keep buried for nearly a year. 
Now we’ve arrived to the question of whether you should invest in this book or not. I will start this off by saying that I had to give this book 1 smiley face because it had a lot of problems. One aspect of the book that I didn’t enjoy was the romance between Jenny and Tom. I definitely felt that their romance escalated quickly and then towards the end of the book his character became less and less important to the story so the romance seemed pointless. The mystery aspect of the book also lacked that element of immersion that made you feel that you were never really invested in the story. One positive aspect was the representation of Indigenous people due to the various Indigenous characters we saw throughout the story. I will say that this book does contain sexual assault as well as very strong language that is not appropriate for all ages so if this is trigger or offensive to you I would skip this one. All in all this book felt like it tried to tackle so many topics at once and because of this was stretched too thin to accomplish what it set out to do. 
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