Dead Girls

"As a girl, I sensed that there wasn't really anywhere I was safe," Selva Almada (The Wind That Lays Waste) reveals in the chilling author's note about growing up in a provincial Argentinian town. By eight, Almada had already experienced verbal sexual abuse, accosted by a bicycling boy while walking. "Violence was normalised.... If you were raped, it was always your fault." Three gruesome murders loomed as she matured in the 1980s. Three decades later, she spent three years researching, then three months writing Dead Girls. Femicide, she adds, "was a violent, horrible introduction to adolescence. Being a woman meant being prey."

Between 1983 and 1988, 19-year-old Andrea Danne was stabbed at home while she slept; 15-year-old María Soledad Morales was raped, strangled and dumped on wasteland; 20-year-old Sarita Mundín's remains were found on the banks of a river. All three crimes remain unsolved. "I didn't know a woman could be killed simply for being a woman," Almada realized at 13. Yet the terror didn't end with death; victims continued to be "subjected to misogyny, abuse and contempt."

Originally published in 2016, Almada's spare, exposing memorial--part journalism, part history, part autobiography, part relentless nightmare--arrives in English, elegantly translated from Spanish by Annie McDermott. Where documents and interviews aren't enough, Almada turned to "the Señora, a medium, a line of connection to the dead girls." As she attempts to reconstruct, reimagine and restore Andrea, María and Sarita's lives, Almada repeatedly reminds readers this trio is hardly an anomaly: femicide continues to claim thousands. "I'm still alive," she challenges. "Purely a matter of luck." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

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