Review: Dead Girls by Alice Bolin

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Publication: June 26th 2018
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 288 pages
Source: Christmas Gift (Thanks Dad!)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays, Feminism
My Rating: ⛤⛤

Well, this book was disappointing. Maybe my most disappointing read of 2019 and I know that’s a big thing to say because Dead Girls is just the second book I’ve read this year but it truly was a disappointment.

Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession is about dead girls in the vaguest of ways in which Bolin introduces her book as being about dead girls and violence against women, luring us in with her introductory essay and opening essay and completely derailing after. Because contrary to its title, Dead Girls is not about dead girls.

This book should honestly have been marketed as a memoir because most of the book includes essays of Bolin writing about her personal experiences than anything actually researched. Bolin writes about moving to L.A., loving Joan Didion, self-diagnosing her father with Asperger’s syndrome. I will admit to a few good essays in the collection, essays I wished Bolin had written more like.

To save you some time should you be interested in reading this book, the essays I enjoyed were “Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show” which is the only essay that actually talks about dead girls, most notably in True DetectiveTwin Peaks, and Pretty Little Liars, “Lonely Heart” which talks about how women in music are figuratively killed from not following certain roles (the only other essay that vaguely relates to dead girls), “A Teen Witch’s Guide to Staring Alive” which talks about girls and witchcraft, and “Just Us Girls” which talks about obsessive female relationships and the horror werewolf classic Ginger Snaps. I ended up speeding through the closing chapter (which I NEVER do) because I was so done with this book and so disappointed at the lie of it.

I just wanted a book about dead girls, and no, not the type the media loves, though it always starts with a Laura Palmer or an Alison DiLaurentis (okay, maybe not that last one with the mess that is Pretty Little Liars) but I wanted more. I wanted an analysis on the tropes of dead girls in media, in dead women. Let’s talk about the dead prom queen, the final girl, the dead mom. I wanted a look into all the ways women are killed in women, who kills these women, how we have become so used to women dying in the T.V. shows we watch and the books we read and I wanted to know why that is.

Joan Didion and L.A. are MUCH more important apparently.

But at least Bolin is honest. In her first essay “Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show,” she tells her readers “I understood that Dead Girls were something I could hitch my wagon to,” (Bolin, Alice 1).

I just wish I had listened. Or really, I wished Bolin was lying and that she hadn’t used the topic of dead girls to make another sensation, making her book so hypocritical.

I will say that Bolin is a talented writer and her essays are very well put together, but I have to give the low rating for the lie that is the book as a whole.

 

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