Ugly Girls – a(n ugly) novel

Ever start reading a book and get a sense pretty early on that you’re not going to enjoy it? What do you do? Push through or bail? For much of my reading life, I’ve opted to push through and have, on occasion, been pleasantly surprised when something shifts or clicks and the book becomes enjoyable. Well, that was not the case with Lindsay Hunter’s Ugly Girls.

If you can imagine a social issue, it’s in this book – alcoholism, poverty, prison conditions, stalking, social network deception, violence, prostitution, vandalism, theft, promiscuity and hypersexuality, adultery, incest…yep, all in this 229 page novel.

When I initially began the book, I was put off by the somewhat confusing narrative – the characters’ names were not indicative of gender (Perry, Jamey) and the alternating voices took a while to become distinct. I stuck with it and was somewhat rewarded by the quality of the writing, which really wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an equally redemptive moment in terms of plot – this story just became increasingly more bleak and dark. I don’t think there was a single happy scene or genuine laugh in the entire book.

If you’re into sad stories, complete with boatloads of wasted opportunities and stomach turning interactions, read this book. Just be sure to keep some hand sanitizer nearby.

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