Reality Check for Vancouverites – Jessica Mah

by capreviewroom

Nancy Lee, who calls Vancouver home, opens the eyes of readers in her short story anthology Dead Girls. The central themes connecting all eight stories are violence, sexuality, drugs and poverty. Nancy Lee approaches these topics honestly and keeps the integrity of the scary reality of the city of Vancouver. Each short story in the collection stand alone and follow different characters. This being said, there is common ground as a serial killer by the name of Thomas Coombs is mentioned throughout the collection. The stories are told from different point of views and allows the reader to explore this gruesome topic from different perspectives.

The first story, “Associate Press” captures you right from the beginning. Uniquely told in second person, “you” are the main character. “You” struggly between “this boy” and “that boy”. One is able to satisfy your emotional needs and the other your physical needs. “Dead Girls”, who gives its name to the anthology as a whole, is particularly powerful as the reader is once again finding themselves as the central character. Also told in second person, the reader is the mother of a missing girl, Clare. The reader is now subject to exploring the feelings of family members of the missing women. “Dead Girls” underlines a sad outlook that our society has about sex trade workers. “So far, the victims are all prostitutes, bodies for hire, disposeable girls” (99). The last story in the anthology, “Sisters” is a story in which anyone could relate. Grace brings her sister Nita to a party with her and her crush, Kevin. That night Nita hooks up with Kevin and soon after runs away with him. This story ventures back and forth between the sister’s lives.

I strongly recommend Dead Girls to all females. Written greatly from a female perspective, it is easy to lose yourself in the stories and feel the pain and the sorrow of the women. This would prove more difficult for a male reader but I believe that males can still appreciate the brilliance of Nancy Lee. Anyone who lives in Vancouver needs to read Dead Girls and open their eyes to the real life atrocities happening day after day.


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