In Dirt Daughter, seventeen-year-old Elena Black has concealed the secret to her childhood friend’s murder for eight years. With the possibility of a college scholarship looming, she plans to keep that secret and flee her dysfunctional home; one with a drug-addicted mother, a stepsister she just met, and a bitter, abusive uncle. But, when a detective reopens the cold case and a friend sets her up on a date with the new boy at school, the past and present collide, threatening Elena’s future plans…and her life.
3 Out Of 5 Stars
Genre: Teen, Mystery--
Elena has had a very hard home life dealing with her drug addicted mother and her abusive and controlling step-father/uncle. Elena longs for the day that she will graduate high school and move far away, the only downside would be leaving her younger sickly brother behind. Elena also longs to leave behind the knowledge that haunts her, that she knows what really happened to her best friend years ago and she is not telling. When a new Detective re-opens the case and starts to ask questions, Elena feels like her world is unwinding around her. Add in the first boy Elena actually likes who wants to know more about her secrets, and Elena is in way over her head.
So here we have this main character that knows what happened to her best friend yet never told anyone. She is the only one that knows Lizzy is dead, not just missing like everyone else thinks. I was so conflicted as to how I should feel towards Elena. I was upset at the beginning of the story to have this unemotional girl with a terrible secret and I thought she was selfish to never tell. But as the story progressed I realized that this girl is in the most awful of positions and can't even live a real life due to the guilt demons attacking her. I spent most of the book being conflicted as to what I wanted her to do; of course I wanted her to tell the truth but I also came to the realization that the truth may destroy Elena and the tentative hold she has on her family. I had so many theories as to who the killer was that evolved into a convoluted mess as the book progressed. I love myself some spoilers and on a regular basis read the ending before starting the book but I held back this time to see how accurate my murder prediction was- the sign of a good mystery in my opinion is if I was completely wrong in my guess as to the criminal. I will say that I knew who the killer was, but even at the end of the book I did not understand the why at all. Bad luck? Anger? Circumstance? I just don't know why said person killed Lizzy and it eats away at me now that the book is over. Anyway, this book was such a mess for Elena and I was caught up in the despair. I had to take breaks while reading because I found it to be a big huge downer and Elena needed a hug more than anyone.
Elena was a mess. She went through the emotions to be an amazing stupid, but inside she felt as dead as Lizzy was. I thought she was smart and made the best of what terrible circumstances she found herself in, but my the end of the story she was pretty out of control. She was drinking and using who knows what from her step dad/uncle to numb herself up and not have to cope. She saw first hand what those choices led to, yet she still made them and it disappointed me. She was a truly messed up girl with lots of potential.
I absolutely loved Angie. When she was introduced to the story I was all set to hate her and whatever attitude issues she had. But against my will, I adored her. She understood the mess that was Elena's life and offered her non-judgmental support regardless. She was the sister that Elena needed and I loved the two of them together.
Could the author have picked a worse love interest for Elena? I think not. The cousin of Elena's missing/dead best friend? Of course the one person Elena actually likes is the guy who she theoretically wants nothing to do with. I was conflicted about Chay as well as by their relationship. I will admit he was amazing to Cal so he gets major brownie points for that.
Uncle Rick was the definition of scum. I understand that Candy did not want to be alone, but to "marry" her dead husband's brother a weekish after his death was atrocious to me. Talk about dysfunction! I was also surprised to learn about Elena's dad, because I started the book thinking he was the one decent person she had but then snippets revealed him to perhaps be somebody else (at least sometimes) which made me question everything. And families like this reinforce my idea that people need to pass a test before being allowed to have kids. If you have to pass a test to be able to drive, you should have to pass a test to be able to be responsible for another human's life.
Overall this was a dark book which dealt with the mystery/death of a little girl as well as the secrets kept by one messed up family. I may be slightly jaded, but I swear all I have read recently are downer books and I need something light and fluffy with humor, STAT. Regardless of that, I would read more from this author in the future.
I received this title from the author in exchange for my honest review.