Review: Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon


Publication: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Pages:  336 pages
Source: Bookmobile
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary
My Rating: ⛤⛤

Right now, this book has a 3.94 rating on Goodreads, and I honestly don’t understand why.

I wanted to like this book so bad! It was so hyped up, was credited as a modern day Thelma and Louise, and it looked like it was going to be focused on a badass mini girl gang. But it just didn’t do it for me.

Done Dirt Cheap follows two teenagers, Tourmaline Harris and Virginia Campbell. When she was fifteen, Tourmaline accidentally caused her mother to prison. Three years later, she’s reached a new kind of normal with her father, the president of the Warden’s, a motorcycle gang. Virginia’s lived quote the opposite life to Tourmaline, after being “sold” at fifteen to a corrupt lawyer named Hazard, and three years later is still under his “care.” Hazard wants to dismantle the Wardens, and sends Virginia to do so. But as Virginia tries to do her job, an unlikely friendship between her and Tourmaline form. The two girls bond over their different yet similar past, and work together to fight all that stands in their way.

I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Tourmaline and Virginia both had interesting backstories, but…their just seemed to be a distance between the characters on the page and the reader. Also, am I the only one who finds it weird that their’s a character named Virginia who lives in Virginia?

The novel isn’t poorly written, but like with the characters there is a certain gap between reader and story. I have no knowledge of motorcycle gangs so I couldn’t relate to Virginia’s story, since she never gave any background about the Wardens, not even to Virginia who also didn’t know anything about motorcycle gangs! And Virginia’s backstory was kept so secret, so many details were left out of focus until the end, it made it hard to relate to her.

Also, one pet peeve with characters. Cash, the conscript, is introduced pretty early on, but for a long time he’s just called “the conscript.” Then out of nowhere they start referring him by name as Cash, and all I could think was, “He has a name?!”

Many reviews cited the age difference between the characters who were romantically involved as one of the reasons against liking this book. The age difference between them are:

  • Calvin and Margaret Harris (34 and 18/17, I think, had to return the book so I can’t actually remember but this was the biggest age difference)
  • Tourmaline and Cash (18 and 23, 5 years)
  • Virginia and Jason (18 and 28, 10 years)

Now, it’s really obvious that Lemon made the characters eighteen on purpose to avoid any illegal relationships between the characters, it was mentioned multiple times in the book that the characters are eighteen, that Tourmaline’s mother was eighteen when she was in a relationship with her father (though possibly seventeen when they first met).

Now, it depends on whether or not you have issues with age differences in relationships. I personally had no trouble with Tourmaline and Cash’s relationship because they’re only six years apart, my parents were four years apart so I don’t see an issue their. Virginia and Jason however are another story.

Again, I don’t really have an issue with the ten year age gap, I have an issue with the fact that Virginia is eighteen. Yes, legally she is an adult, but that doesn’t mean having a relationship with someone ten years older than her is a good idea. Especially when she was prepped and groomed by Hazard to be beautiful in beauty pageants. Jason also makes it clear multiple times that though attracted to Virginia, he isn’t comfortable having a relationship with her. But Virginia keeps pushing him to have a relationship, and Tourmaline gives this stupid monologue at the end that Virginia’s “eighteen isn’t the same as her eighteen” because of the hard life she’s lived and blah blah blah but you know what? IT DOESN’T MATTER! Jason is the older one and could have still walked away and refused to start a relationship with her, but SPOILER he doesn’t!

Another thing a lot of reviewers had problems with was the predatory/rapish scene in Hazard’s house. For context, Hazard invites Virginia over to his house, starts touching her shoulders and moving closer to her and being overall super creepy. Now, I personally didn’t have a problem with this scene because it’s supposed to feel creepy and uncomfortable, and it defines Hazard’s character as evil and vile. A scene I did have trouble with that no one is talking about was between Tourmaline and Cash near the end.

Context again: Tourmaline wants to date Cash, who is a conscript and wants to be in the Wardens, but they can’t date because it’s against biker rules or something? One he gets his patches, they can have a relationship though. So he gets patched, and finds out the truth about the Wardens and is upset and angry and doesn’t really want to do anything with Tourmaline BUT SHE MARCHES OVER TO HIM AND WRAPS HER LEGS AROUND HIS WAIST. Now, obviously he then kisses her and consents because “that’s what he really wanted” but I felt so uncomfortable with the whole scene! If someone doesn’t want to talk to you, that doesn’t mean you “seduce” them!

The epilogue was also super confusing. It’s maybe three or four pages, and it starts with Tourmaline starting to college, then suddenly it’s two years later and her dad’s out of jail, they’re visiting her mom in prison, and Virginia is Queen of the Biker’s now apparently? It was just…weird.

I really wish Done Dirt Cheap was worth the hype. But it was so disappointing, and just couldn’t hold my interest. If you have insider knowledge on motorcycle gangs you may enjoy this book. Otherwise, I would skip it.


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