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Lessons from a Dead Girl Paperback – August 11, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763644854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763644857
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Knowles does a credible job of exploring friendships, particularly those of girls, in all their complexity and depth." -- Teenreads.com, November 2007

"The concise, clear style of this short novel belies the sophistication of its subject matter... [Knowles'] characterizations are sharp and nuanced, and she handles Leah, Laine, and the complex dynamic between them with respect and insight." -- School Library Journal, December 2007

"[Readers will] be riveted by this haunting story of a girl's journey to understanding." -- Booklist, December 1, 2007

Spare and evocative prose weaves the story of Leah and Lainey's turbulent and abusive friendship. Fast friends from a young age, Leah is outgoing, "smart, so the teachers love her and . . . beautiful so the boys love her," while Lainey is plain and introspective. During the younger years of their friendship, Leah is sexually abusive to Lainey, claiming that the two are "practicing." As the girls grow older, Lainey pulls away from Leah, confused and hurt by Leah's opprobrious behavior. Lainey falls in with new friends, while Leah becomes self-destructive. Over time, Lainey comes to understand the roots of Leah's odd behavior, but by the time she comes to fully grasp it, it's too late. Clearly and concisely written, Knowles's provoking exploration of children abusing children portrays the tense and finely crafted dynamics between the two girls. Lainey's character is extremely well-developed showing her metamorphosis from hypercritical and withdrawn to self-realized with a focused and knowing clarity. A razor-sharp examination of friendship, abuse and secrets. (Fiction. YA) -- Kirkus, October 1, 2007 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Jo Knowles is the author of the young adult novels Lessons from a Dead Girl, Jumping Off Swings, Pearl, and See You At Harry's. She has a master's degree in children's literature. Some of her awards include the PEN New England Children's Book Discovery Award, YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults, YALSA Quick Picks Top Ten, YALSA's Popular Paperbacks, International Reading Associations Young Adult Choices List, Tayshas List, and Bank Street College's Best Books for Children (Outstanding Merit). Jo lives in Vermont with her husband and son.

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Customer Reviews

The characters are nicely balanced.
Edith Cohn
Despite its darkness, I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone - because it's a story that must be read, especially by young adults.
Dee18
Clearly, Lessons from a Dead Girl did a good job in making me feel so deeply for both of these girls.
endlesswonderofreading

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By L. K. Messner on November 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Laine is an ordinary teenager with a gut-wrenching secret that haunts her from the very first page of LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL and haunts readers long after the last page is turned. The "dead girl" in the title is Laine's friend Leah -- a friend who steals away Laine's childhood through an abusive relationship that escalates so painfully that you want desperately to step into the book and shout, "NO!"

This book is definitely an older YA -- one I'd recommend for high school rather than middle school readers. It made me feel anxious and uncomfortable, but it also made me reflect on the nature of friendship and kids -- why some of our kids' friendships can become so frighteningly destructive, and why they don't turn away.

What makes this book remarkable is the way is portrays the fear, guilt, and confusion of abuse, without completely demonizing the antagonist. At the end of this gut-wrenching story, there remains room for forgiveness and for hope. LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL has a rare gift of being a compelling page-turner and an important novel all at once -- a book that teens will tear through in a sitting or two and then think about for years.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Eric Luper on January 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With every turn of the page, Jo Knowles twists the knife yet again. Lessons From a Dead Girl was one of those books that spirals down, down, down, but still you have to read on. The relationship between Leah and Laine reminds us that there is very little black or white--that things are mostly shades of grey. And that we can sometimes find light in the darkest of places. It's rare for a book like this to grab me so forcefully, yet Knowles does it here. I highly recommend this novel and am looking forward to her next!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dee18 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
Friendships are meant to drift, not haunt. But since Leah Greene's death, Laine is haunted by the memories of their childhood friendship - by the signs Leah left, the questions Laine didn't ask and the pain of a terrible cycle that was inflicted on both girls.

`Lessons From a Dead Girl' was the 2007 young adult novel from Jo Knowles.

I owe big thanks to Nicole for recommending me this book - but for also forewarning me of its disturbing brilliance. Even with ample warning, I wasn't prepared for `Lessons From a Dead Girl' - but, then again, I don't think any reader will be guarded against the terrible events explored in this book, and that's probably a good thing for the impact Jo Knowles leaves behind.

We meet Laine the day she is told that her childhood best friend, Leah Greene, is dead. They haven't been friends for a long time now - not since Leah developed a reputation she seemed to revel in. But one last explosive confrontation between the girls is haunting Laine as much as the memories from long ago, the ones that are resurfacing with evil intent in the wake of Leah's death.

Laine was never quite sure why Leah chose to be friends with her - Leah was beautiful and popular, her parents were rich and everyone wanted to be her friend, but she chose Laine. But what started as an idyllic friendship, and entry into Leah's beautiful life, soon soured ... Laine's memories take us from the present-day tragedy; to the slow-burning devastation that was Leah and Laine's `dirty' little secret.

Jo Knowles is a beautiful writer, who writes sinister and moving stories. In `Lessons From a Dead Girl' she takes us back to Leah and Laine when they are in primary school. Knowles starts by showing us a normal, healthy friendship ...
Read more ›
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeannine Atkins on December 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The title suggests this novel won't be a happy-happy read, and the partly closed door on the cover suggests we might want to enter carefully, but who can resist? And once inside this book, the pages turn as fast as that old wooden door. Lessons from a Dead Girl deals with a variety of friendships, but the one at the center, between Laine and Leah, is one complicated by issues of power. Knowles bravely shows the hazards of control and submission played out by some little girls, and how those patterns can haunt their years as teens. She shows the courage it takes to try to break the patterns and the inevitable set backs as one girl grows into knowing herself better, and another stumbles. The writing is pared to what's beautifully necessary. Not one word feels out of place. This novel made me cringe and cry a bit, but also exult. I'll never, ever forget it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By pierce the veil on June 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
i was crying ugh you don't understand this feeling of misery when you finish a book and you dont know what to do with your life
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda on December 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The exploration of the young girls seems harmless, but Knowles is able to showcase the long term effects of bad parenting and misguided friendship with the two main characters. It's a weird feeling; there isn't a heroine so to speak and young can't decide if you love the girl or hate them but regardless you are drawn to them. You won't be able to put this down
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved this book so much! i have read it 3 times and still cry at the end. Im a 8th grader and i think every 8th grade girl should read this book. AMAZING BOOK! all of my friends love it also!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sophie on August 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
this book is about a girl names lainey who has sexually abused by her best friend, leah, when they were younger. leah controlled lainey's life and ruined everything that was good in her life. even after they grew up and drifted apart, leah still controlled lainey and made sure she never forgot what she did.

this book is so heartbreaking and a tear jerker as well. this book was written so perfectly that you can feel the emotions of the character.

i think that anyone who has had a friend that treated them badly, can relate to this book. its an easy read and very worthwhile. i recommend it to everyone.
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