An Alluring Look Into the Human Condition–Ava Ashrafian

by capreviewroom

Dead girls—a series of short stories—has the rare ability to showcase the sometimes raw and unwanted emotions that add to the complex human condition. The short stories, eight of them altogether, intertwine to become an enticing tale of tragic death, perplexing relationships, and sexuality.

Each of the eight stories primarily happen to deal with women (or girls) and the issues which consume their sometimes overwhelming lives. These issues do not seem to be lighthearted; instead, Nancy Lee takes on the darker—yet still very present side of being a female: abortion, substance abuse, poverty, sexual exploitation, and lastly, prostitution. Somehow, Lee unwinds each story of heartbreak followed by heartbreak with an inescapable desire to, as a reader, refrain from closing the book; even if the characters perils completely overcome you.

In ‘Associated Press’ Lee introduces us to Thomas Coombs, a killer of prostitutes on the downtown east side. The book then somehow works its way backwards, as Coombs goes from in jail, to before his arrest when he was still murdering innocent women, such as Nita in ‘Sisters. Although he is not physically present in all the stories, his wrongdoing is implied. For example, he seemingly is the the man who tries to kidnap Adele in ‘Rollie And Adele.’

This book explores Vancouver in both its triumphs and its tragedies—and it does have both. The exploration of the downtown east side uncovers an uglier side to the famously known ‘best place on earth.’ Not only is this an important book in the literary term, but also knowledge wise as it reveals that our city—while beautiful and majestic, has its fair share of flaws. Flaws in which we are yet to, for lack of a better word, unflaw. 

Dead Girls is a provocative, alluring read which allows you, the reader, to open your mind and see situations as the characters would see them; to feel things as the characters would feel them. It has fearlessly indulged itself into lives of the troubled and disturbed. It is a piece of fiction that you will never fail to remember.

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