Dead Girls: Society and Stereotypes

by capreviewroom

By Melissa Marino

The short stories in Nancy Lee’s collection Dead Girls are set in Vancouver and are all connected through a theme of suffering and loss of loved ones. The author focuses on delicate subjects among society and she analyzes the struggles that the characters in these stories have to face. Lee writes about young women and their experiences through sex, prostitution, drugs, and alcohol.

Nancy Lee begins with “Associated Press” which is a short story about a girl’s complicated love life. The girl is referred to as “you” and the two boys with which the girl has a relationship are referred to as “this boy” and “that boy”. This gives the reader a sense of being part of the story. In my opinion, “Associated Press” is a great way to start off the collection since it’s written in a clear and simple way. Also, it definitely captivates the reader’s interest because it’s a story that many people can relate to.

In the short story “Sisters”, Grace is a young girl who wants the attention of a guy who doesn’t seem suitable for her. Later on, the guy begins a relationship with Grace’s older sister, Nita. Grace feels betrayed by her sister, especially after Nita “pretended she hadn’t done anything wrong” (266). Nonetheless, by the end of the story, Grace remembers the struggles her sister goes through on a daily basis and therefore regrets the hate she feels towards Nita.

In my opinion, the short story “Dead Girls” is the most captivating because it affects how people view prostitution as a stereotype. The stereotype focuses on the negative impact prostitutes make on society rather than, for instance, considering the sensitive side mother’s feel towards their children. This short story is about a mother who feels responsible and condemned after losing her young daughter. Nancy Lee thoroughly explains the mother’s actions and feelings. The mother looks “for signs of it all beginning” (107) and she looks for ways to bring back her daughter. She struggles to accept her daughter’s loss.

The short stories in this collection strongly emphasize the different ways people overcome their suffering. This book is definitely worth reading; it allows the reader to reflect on small but important details in order to truly understand the lives of the characters through stories that contemplate our society and morals.

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