contemporary · young adult

Dirt Daughter – Michele Shaw

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Blurb: “Seventeen-year-old Elena Black had concealed the secret to her childhood friend’s murder for eight years. With the possibility of a college scholarship looming, she plans to keep that secret and flee her dysfunctional home; one with a drug-addicted mother, a stepsister she just met, and a bitter abusive uncle. But when a detective reopens the cold case and a friend sets her up on a date with the new boy at school, the past and present collide, threatening Elena’s future plans… and her life.” 

*I was sent this book by the publisher but this in no way affects my review*

The prologue opens with Elena in a police station, in the preparatory stages of giving her statement about the disappearance of her friend, Lucy. The story then takes a step back to a month before where we get to see more of Elena’s life: she’s in her final year of High School and just wants to get into a good college so that she can move away and forget about Lucy. Her dad is dead and his replacement – Rick – is well… not very nice. Let’s put it that way. To top off the pressure and angst Elena already has building, her friend – Charlotte – is only ever around when she isn’t dating someone; which is rare. Charlotte decides to set Elena with a guy called Chayton who is part Sioux (yay diversity) who just happens to live on Lucy’s street (which brings back bad memories for Elena). Rick’s child – Angela – from a previous relationship shows up and is forced to room with Elena, making her already claustrophobic life all the more intense.

The story follows Elena through her every day life, making a few references to Lily causing the reader to question Elena’s involvement. I found this relatively boring as it seemed to drag on for too long building up the elements that make you care about the character. Then Elena comes home one day to find a stranger in her living room. It is Detective Carter and she’s reopened the case of Lucy’s disappearance. *cue dramatic music*

Obviously, this is a Young Adult mystery novel: there were many points where I thought I had things sussed, only to be left gawking at my kindle several pages later.

One issue I had with this book is a personal one. I just didn’t like the writing. That’s not to automatically label it “badly written” because other readers may not have a problem with the writing. I just found it hard to digest at times and felt like I was forcing my way through it.

Another thing I didn’t like was the ending. Just as I was starting to think that things were finally looking up, that was it. BAM. ENDING. I was left with so many unanswered questions which work in some books, but didn’t in Dirt Daughter. I found myself putting aside the book feeling annoyed.

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