Relatable, Raw & Rapturous – Written by Shabi A

by capreviewroom

Eight stories, one author and two words: must read. Dead Girls by Nancy Lee is a collection of short stories which are based in Vancouver, BC and paint a vivid image of the downtown eastside which is known for roaming prostitutes, drugs and the homeless. Lee, a Vancouver resident herself, brings us a captivating collection of short stories about relationships. Relationships with parents, drugs, lovers and strangers. Relationships that take you on a journey of love, loss, anger and worry. A mother worries day and night for her missing daughter, a daughter reminisces her childhood memories with her distant father and teenagers find friendship in a dark place. Each story feels very real; you quickly become involved with every character. Some have names, some don’t. Some have family, some don’t. Regardless of the situation, every story has a form of suffering, and a form of hope.

The title ‘Dead Girls’ coincides with the fact that all the stories have a background theme of British Columbia’s missing women. Whether it’s mentioned on the news in the background or a mother’s daughter missing herself, Lee weaves the stories together beautifully.  There’s a certain flow while reading the stories; although they are so different in events, they are all connected. In ‘Associated Press’, the first story of the collection, a woman is chosen for jury duty. “A terrible thing has happened here. I’ve been selected for jury duty – a man accused of killing prostitutes and burying them in his backyard. There will be crime scene photos”.

Among the eight stories, one in particular stood out to me: ‘Sally in Parts’. This story is a little different in a sense that it is divided up. Each part of the short story represents a physical part of Sally; her heart, her hands, her breasts. “If Sally’s lips spoke her heart, they would be bare and tender.” There are flashbacks to her childhood and memories of her father and suddenly you are wrapped up in their distant yet oddly warm relations. 

Dead Girls is a collection that is hard to put down. Each story is relatable in one way or another. An overall great read and an especially well written short story novel. 

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