Review: Hymnal for Dirty Girls

Hymnal for Dirty Girls

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had to take a few days to think about how I should review this book. I received it in a Goodreads Giveaway, which I entered based almost entirely on the cover design and title. I knew nothing of the subject matter or format and that would have greatly affected my desire to pick it up in the first place.

Next, I should be clear that my rating is, and must be, true to my own experience in reading the book. It does not necessarily depict the independent value or quality of the writing, the impact of the themes or subjects, or any other fancy writing concepts. On Goodreads, two stars means, “It was ok,” and that is exactly how I felt after reading it. I suspect that those who pick this book up based on its content with an honest desire and interest in it will find the book much more enjoyable.

The format is also very hard to critique. This is a collection of extremely short stories. Some are no more than a single scene. It felt, at times, like the author was sharing a bunch of writing experiments with us. I can’t very well critique them on lack of character development or anything like that because that’s not the form of writing we’re dealing with. For what they are, they are very well written. In a few stories the use of the second person perspective is a bit annoying and feels like the type of gimmick I’d expect from a college-level writing class.

There are a few moments of clear inspired writing in here, which is commendable. My overall impression was that of a small art exhibit in a big city, which spends more effort on being different and niche than on the craft itself.

The jacket notes mention that Ms. Matthews is currently writing a novel. I’d be interested in reading that to see how she handles the larger work and the many aspects of writing that come with it.

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