Book review: Mormon author pens novel about stereotypes, secrets and lies cloud one teen's quest to solve a murder
Within a year, Jaycee's world shattered after a series of gunshots was aimed at her best friend’s house. Just prior to the drive-by shooting, Jaycee’s best friend, Rachel, had shrugged their friendship of her shoulders like it meant nothing.
After a turbulent year of hurt and rivalry between the two friends-gone-faux, Rachel was murdered. The circumstances surrounding her murder were vaguely reminiscent of another murder in the community — a murder that was immediately pegged as gang-related and the case was closed.
After time passed and the town finally healed from the prior murder, Rachel’s death brought the dormant racial discussion back to the foreground. The town wasn’t surprised, and with Rachel’s murder, the case was re-examined, bringing gang stereotypes and racial profiling back into the spotlight.
Guilt-ridden and broken, Jaycee blames herself for Rachel’s death. Not only had they grown apart, but on the night Rachel was killed, Jaycee ignored her texts and calls. Answering a call could have saved her best friend’s life, but instead she let a boy, and her pride, get in the way.
Author Jennifer Shaw Wolf, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, depicts a riveting teenage drama, filled with excitement, danger, young love and deception. Rachel’s last words to Jaycee were a request that she only trust only one man and to not go to the police under any circumstances. Instead, Jaycee throws herself into danger’s way by ignoring the warnings of her dad, Rachel and the one man Rachel said she could trust.
Getting to the bottom of Rachel’s murder is a whirlwind of danger and lies. Just when she thinks she can trust someone, a curveball is thrown into the mix and Jaycee finds herself confused and scared. “Dead Girls Don’t Lie” is a coming-of-age tale of sorts, but with a darker twist. As Jaycee struggles to find her moral center and backbone amid an ongoing, and highly suspicious, murder investigation.
The novel has a strong foundation in Christian values; Jaycee is a churchgoer, as is the majority of her community. She finds strength in church and prayer, and emulates high values. While it can be dark, “Dead Girls Don’t Lie” fits its teenage audience well. With only a few instances of mild cursing and violence, “Dead Girls Don’t Lie” is an expertly written thriller tiptoeing the lines of gang stereotypes, hot-headed teens and a shocking end to a well-kept town secret.
“Dead Girls Don’t Lie” is a 2013 Whitney Award finalist in the general young adult category. The Whitney Awards recognize the novels of Mormon authors.
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