Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin – Review

A queer YA #MeToo reimagining of Thelma & Louise with the aesthetic of Riverdale, for fans of Mindy McGinnis, Courtney Summers, and Rory Power.

When Trixie picks up her best friend Lux for their weekend getaway, she’s looking to escape for a little while, to forget the despair of being trapped in their dead-end Rust Belt town and the daunting responsibility of caring for her ailing mother. The girls are packing light: a supply of Diet Coke for Lux and her ‘89 Canon to help her frame the world in a sunnier light; half a pack of cigarettes for Trixie that she doesn’t really smoke, and a knife—one she’s just hanging on to for a friend—that she’s never used before.

But a single night of violence derails their trip and will forever change the course of the girls’ lives, as they go from ordinary high schoolers to wanted fugitives. Trying to stay ahead of the cops and a hellscape of media attention, the girls grapple with an unforgiving landscape, rapidly diminishing supplies, and disastrous decisions at every turn. As they are transformed by the media into the face of a #MeToo movement they didn’t ask to lead and the road before them begins to run out, Trixie and Lux realize that they can only rely on each other, and that the love they find together is the one thing that truly makes them free.

In rushing, powerful prose Julia Lynn Rubin takes readers on “a blistering, unapologetic thrill ride” (Emma Berquis) that will leave them haunted and reeling. Trouble Girls is “a powerful, beautifully-written gut punch” (Sophie Gonzales).

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Thank you so much to Wednesday books and NetGalley for the eARC of this absolutely haunting YA release. When we meet best friends Lux and Trixie, their lives are limited to the small town they grew up in; Blue Bottle. Lux dreams of being a photographer and Trixie yearns to be herself– someone who is hopelessly in love with her friend. However, this feels impossible where they reside, so she instead settles for stealing happy moments with her whenever she can. The two plan a small escape from the town and from school; a secret camping trip. However, they stop by a bar on the way out, and the unthinkable happens. In one fell swoop, the girls become fugitives, runaways.

So their Thelma-and-Louise-esque journey begins; an unplanned and dangerous getaway to take Lux to the ocean. They lay low as much as possible, and the reader feels the mounting tension as they enter a world without social media, without parents, and without rules. From snippets of news playing in diners or think pieces on library computers, we learn of the aftermath of the girls’ violent act. It gives a very clean view of the two divided sides of the fight– women who have had enough, and the men who want to see them silenced forever. Though I’m not a teenager anymore, I related to this story in the way that all females will. There is something deemed inferior about us from the moment we’re born, and we spend our lives trying to break through that.

In this way, this novel is a mallet to the heart. These girls have seen too much in their young years, but their feats of defiance rally other hurt women to speak out. Lux and Trixie do questionable things, but their saga inspires a floodgate to open up. I am proud to live in a world that is slowly changing every day– that people like our protagonists are starting to feel comfortable sharing their stories. Only in honesty can we be healed, and no one should have to keep their pain to themselves. This book is a story of love, of mistakes, and one of the impact a life can make on the world. It reminds the reader that they are important– even if they don’t know it.

5/5 stars