Dirt Daughter by Michele Shaw

dirt daughter

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. (Goodreads)

This for me was a book that I requested on Netgalley as soon as I read the Premise. Normally, I go through Netgalley, check out the new releases and add them to my TBR list  on Goodreads. Only books that really intrigue me are ever requested. While I guessed fairly early on what had happened to her best friend as a child, I still enjoyed reading the actual book itself.

Right from the very first page, the reader is introduced to the main character in an interview room at the police station. Of course, any normal person would want need to know what happened just to satisfy the OCD. We are inherently nosy creatures and everyone loves a little bit of Schadenfreude, even if you won’t admit it! So, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about what the main character, Elena, witnessed as a child and why she kept it a secret all of these years … I was not disappointed. To a point, I can also understand why she didn’t tell the truth about what had happened to Lizzy and why she had lied about who was really there that day. It makes sense – especially because she was a 9 year old girl at the time. You could also see how the guilt was eating her up throughout the entire book because of the way in which she treated the other characters around her.

I felt sorry for Elena and Cal because of the way in which her mother allowed herself to be railroaded by Rick (Elena’s uncle) after the death of her dad. Normally, with a loss like that, the parents have to be strong for the children – but it was more the other way around, Elena making sure that Cal got his medicine when he needed it and looking after the house and its occupants in general. The guilt along with the responsibilities that should have befallen her mother, meant that she couldn’t go out and be a normal teenager. It was almost like she didn’t want to connect with anyone else her age because she didn’t want to have to go through what she went through with Lizzy again. Almost like she thought that history would repeat itself again.

When it comes to Rick, I almost feel stupid. Throughout the book, I always considered him a misguided character. I understand that what he was doing was wrong etc. Drugs, drinking, smoking and generally being not a very nice person. However, it always seemed that, in his misguided own way, that he was still looking out for Elena with the police etc, even if it wasn’t in the conventional, right way that a parent would. It was his own way of doing things, even if society in general considers this to be completely wrong. Having reached the end of the book and finding out why he was acting the way in which he did, it was more to protect himself and what he had done rather than protecting Elena and her mother.

While I enjoyed the book and the ending, I still feel a little bit dissatisfied in not knowing what exactly happened to Rick. It is sort of left with an open end to his part in the story and I feel like it should have been closed off – he didn’t get what he deserved, which I think is what annoys me the most as a reader! I obviously don’t want to say too much about the ending, but maybe there should be a mini novella just to clear that all up!

I enjoyed this book and it is definitely one that I would recommend – although probably not your normal, light – hearted summer read! I gave this book 4/5 stars

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