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Bad Girls Never Say Die by Jennifer Mathieu - Review

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Where did I get it? My mum and stepdad bought me it for Christmas after I asked for it. I follow Jen on Twitter so knew she had a new book it! 

What's it about? It's set in 1964, almost a year after the death of John F Kennedy. It's set in Houston, Texas. Evie lives with her mum and grandmother; her elder sister recently got married and is living on an army base some way away. Evie misses her desperately. Evie has got friendly with three "bad" girls recently - Connie, Sunny, and Juanita, who lives next door. The neighbourhood they live in is pretty poor, and everyone knows that the police will try to pin anything on them. The girls cut school a lot. 

One Friday evening they head over to the drive thru movie theatre. Connie has recently been in Gainesville in some kind of juvenile detention, so the girls are celebrating her freedom. Connie's brother Johnny is there and to begin with I thought Evie had a little crush on him, but if she does, it's not really explored. 

Evie heads to the washrooms and while there a boy from the rich side of town starts to talk to her. Then he attacks her and threatens to rape her. She blacks out, and when she comes to a 'tea sipper', one of the girls from the rich side of town, is standing over her. She is Diane, and she has recently moved to Evie's "bad" neighbourhood and moved to Evie's school. None of her old friends will talk to her anymore, which Evie witnessed earlier in the evening. And now she has stabbed Preston, and he is dead. 

Evie realises the danger they are in, so the two run off quickly, to Diane's house. The house is cluttered and filled with bottles; Diane lives with her aunt. Her bedroom though is very tidy. Evie realises there's something deeper going on with Diane, but she doesn't press for details.

Realising that Diane has saved her from rape and possibly from death, Evie quickly brings her into the group. The other girls aren't sure, though, but Evie stands up for herself, and for Diane. Everything quickly unravels, of course - but this is a gorgeous book about girl friendship, about forging your own path, and about doing what is right.

For what it's worth I think Jen Mathieu isw a really underrated YA writer and I would encourage you to go read her stuff right now!

What age range is it for? 15+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No - I did wonder if the book was going to go that way and I was here for it! 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Juanita is Mexican and there's mention of how she's treated at school, and Evie and Diane also discuss the fact that segregated schools still exist in Texas. I thought both of these points were a good way of showing the racial inequality of the time. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, trigger warning for sexual assault - it isn't graphic but it is there

Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so. The girls do smoke a lot which is very true for the time but may be jarring for a modern reader! 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, it's somewhat graphic, but age appropriate I felt

Are there swear words? A few. It really gave the girls a flavour!


What criticisms do I have? Almost none 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. It's got that 60s nostalgia to it which I really liked; I wanted to run with the "bad" girls too 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Trying to make my way through my Christmas books as is usual for January! 


What do I think of the cover? It's cute, it looks like a film (watch Moxie! It's really good!) 


What other books is it like? It reminded me of Pulp by Robin Talley which is set in a similar timeframe I think 

How many stars? Four out of five, a very good from me


Where is the book going now? I'll keep it! I've got a few of Jen's other books!

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