The Lives of Desperate Girls by MacKenzie Common

I’d like to say a big thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

the lives of desperate girlsIn the small town of Thunder Creek, Ontario, Jenny wakes one day to the news her best friend Chloe has gone missing. Following this, a young First Nations girl called Helen is found murdered. Whilst Chloe’s disappearance is heavily investigated, Helen’s murder is pushed under the rug… and Jenny wants to know why. Sure Chloe is her best friend, maybe she should be happy that the investigation is putting its resources into finding Chloe… but Jenny can’t help but wonder why Helen’s death isn’t being treated as significantly. This book is a coming of age novel focused on racism, friendship and slut-shaming. I found the story quite riveting but had a few problems with it.

 “It haunted me to think that once a person was gone, all that remained of their life was a random collection of possessions and a shadow in other people’s memories. It made me feel as if I should live my life in a way that would transcend a closet full of clothing and the private sadness of a mother.”

So, my main problem with the book was that it felt very “white savior”. Jenny is shocked to realise the way everyone in her town treats First Nations people is racist. I don’t know how she didn’t realise this by the fact that all the First Nations people live on a reserve, which doesn’t even have access to public transport. She spends the rest of the book investigating Helen’s murder, by befriending Helen’s mum and some of her friends. Granted, Jenny did realise throughout the story she was being naïve AF, but it all just left a bitter taste in my mouth towards her. Despite my dislike of Jenny, I did like the commentary in the book regarding racism in Canada. It felt very familiar as someone from Australia, where people have their own prejudices towards Aboriginal people.

“People got worried when a white girl disappeared. If she was blond, it was a national emergency”.


I also didn’t connect with the relationships in this book. Firstly, the relationship between Jenny and Tom. I’ve seen others say this, and I also found it weird that Jenny just skipped school to go driving with this guy she DOESN’T EVEN KNOW. When her best friend is missing, presumed dead?! Yeah, no. Jenny, you are stupid. I also absolutely loathed Chloe and Jenny’s friendship. Now – this book is told in a first person POV so we only hear Jenny’s perspective of things… and from this perspective, the friendship seemed truly awful. Jenny seemed simultaneously jealous of Chloe and in love with her. Jenny also commented that she hated the way Chloe was slut-shamed… then in the next sentence judged her for sleeping with people?! You either respect your best friend… or you don’t.

All in all, I could take or leave this book. It reminded me of a lot of other books, but wasn’t written as well. All together I give it a 3/5 stars.

A x


One thought on “The Lives of Desperate Girls by MacKenzie Common

  1. This seems like an intriguing book. Thanks for introducing it to me, and for a great review!

    I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.


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