Dirt Daughter – Michelle Shaw

Many thanks to MuseItUp Publishing and MuseItUp YA, via NetGalley, for an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

3.5/5 stars.

I liked this book. Honestly — like many other reviewers — I guessed the “whodunnit” part of the mystery by probably 30% through the book. But the most interesting aspect of the book, to me, was what knowing that she had lied to the police, repeatedly, regarding her friend’s murder, was doing to Laney psychologically.

I also appreciated the very realistic look at Laney’s family. Her mom is on drugs that her stepdad (who is also her uncle) sells; Laney states several times through the book that she knows her stepdad/uncle really only wants to control her mom, which is why she’s kept doped up for so much of the time.

And honestly, although Laney’s family is so messed up, I loved the interactions between her and her younger brother, Cal — and eventually, even her interactions with her and her half-sister Angie. Although the mystery was easily guessable, I am assuming that Shaw didn’t intend for it to be super duper hard to figure out — because (for me at least) more of the gripping parts of the book came from the psychological stress that Laney was under.

(Also, how the hell do you pronounce “Chayton”? Is the “Ch” a hard “K” noise, or is it softer, more like “chair” is pronounced? I’ve never heard that name before, and it was bugging me through the entire book, because I’m one of those readers who has to be able to pronounce the characters’ names. If they’re foreign names, then that’s a little different [i.e., Hungarian names if I can’t speak Hungarian, I settle for a close approximation]. But Chayton is a very Anglicized name and not knowing for sure how to pronounce it is a little irritating.)

Anyway, aside from the Ch/K issue on Laney’s boyfriend’s name and the lack of “mystery” around the murder (I’ll give you a hint — it was more the latter that dropped my rating! haha), I really enjoyed Dirt Daughter. Laney was pretty likable, and when she wasn’t, her behaviors were understandable at least. I liked the twist about who Chayton was, and I felt so bad for Laney regarding her wanting to escape where she lived so she could have an entirely new start.

One other problem with the book that was never resolved (I don’t think?) — Cal stated that their mom was sick (and not just with the flu), because he heard her throwing up a lot (multiple times a day, for weeks on end). We never found out what was the matter with her, unless it was due to the drugs…? But even that is just a guess on my part. I was wondering if maybe she was pregnant…? but it wasn’t resolved either. And near the end of the book, the descriptions of her sounded absolutely awful (something along the lines of her being so pale that she was almost grey).

Anyway. Do recommend, but when you go into it, be aware that the main pull of the book (in my opinion) isn’t to do with trying to solve the mystery. 🙂

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