1971. Riley Madison is always looking over her shoulder. And always running. From poverty, from abuse, from a childhood snuffed out by a junkie mother, and a violent past marginally kept at bay.
This twenty-two-year-old New Yorker lives in her less than perfect world where her only friend is a cat, and when not self-medicating with Twinkies, Oreos and cigarettes, she works at a Times Square sex emporium servicing anyone who can pay.
Not because she wants to. But because she has to if she aims to stay one step ahead of the dangerous underworld that sees her as nothing more than prey.
Prey whose internal armor is about to be tested in ways she never imagined when her life once again spirals out of control.
Survival in the animal world is a simple concept. Survival in the human world is not.
What’s It About?
***Contains Some Spoilers and Quotations***
When diagnosed with lockjaw, a hazard of her job as a sex worker, she is no longer able to work and winds up homeless. Then, a kind act by a stranger takes her from being broke, homeless, cold and hungry; to safe, with goals and a future full of prospects that wouldn’t have been available to her, otherwise.
“It was a moment long in the making. Where atonement and retribution had to collide for the sake of that twelve year old girl.”
The Bad Girl is a dark women’s fiction novel, told from the perspectives of Riley, a Vietnam Vet named Fritz, an old man named Bennie, and Samson –a superior Havana Brown cat. -Yes, seriously! 🙂
It’s funny, because I once had the idea to include a cat’s point of view in a novel, and I see that Author L. Donsky-Levine beat me to it! Even so, I was delighted to read Samson the cat’s thoughts!
Riley Madison’s character is troubled and disturbed. She numbs herself with food and benzos, and works at a sex emporium because she has to. She doesn’t have many options, due to her troubled past, lack of education and social skills, among other reasons. She is still a sympathetic character, despite her drug use and job as a prostitute because her heart is kind; She rescues stray animals and brings them to the shelter. She might not care about herself, but she cares about the poor, stranded animals she finds on the streets. These acts warmed her to me.
The secondary characters, with the exception of Bennie and Samson the cat, felt “extra” to me. Fitz Darcy didn’t come across to me as the hero he tried to be. I felt he meddled in Riley’s life too much, as opposed to Bennie, who gave her options, but didn’t push his will on her.
There were a couple scenarios in the novel that didn’t seem logical. The incident with the eight boys partying in the warehouse was hard for me to wrap my head around because one would think you could have heard them from a mile away, and not have been surprised to find them. I felt so bad for her for what happened next, but was scratching my head as to how she didn’t realize they were there, when only moments before she could hear the broken glass under her feet and the sounds of her own breathing. Eight boys partying around the corner would have been hard to not hear.
The ending was completely unexpected and bittersweet. It choked me up a bit because in one way, it was sad and in another, it was freeing.
I really enjoyed this thought-provoking read and I would recommend it to fans of dark women’s fiction!
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an e-copy of this novel, in exchange for a fair, thoughtful, and honest book review. This in no way swayed my rating or review.
“MAY BE HER FIRST . . . but L. Donsky-Levine’s debut novella of lost souls living half-lives amidst the bustle of New York city in the 1970s is so beautifully crafted, so seamlessly seasoned with unforgettable characters and a storyline that delivers on all levels, readers will be begging for more.” —Readers’ Favorite
L. Donsky-Levine was born and raised in New York and where according to her mother, she was writing before she even walked, telling those stories with a twig in the dirt. But it would take a lifetime and the raising of a family first before that career as storyteller would come to fruition. In her trademark witty and wise fashion, she crafts stories crossing all genres, all emotional landscapes of the heart about characters dealing with all the things life could possibly throw their way. The Bad Girl is her debut novella. She currently lives in South Florida with her family, and when not writing she can be found tinkering around in the kitchen (just for fun), painting, taking long walks with her granddaughter, Cupcake, or online. You can find out more about her work by visiting her website as well as be the first to hear about upcoming books by signing up for her mailing list newsletter.