Title: Done Dirt Cheap
Author: Sarah Nicole Lemon
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
“Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens. Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of Hazard, a powerful attorney: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.”
Done Dirt Cheap is unlike anything on the young adult market right now. Billed as Sons of Anarchy meets Thelma and Louise, this tale about female friendship and biker gangs was completely unexpected.
What I loved about Done Dirt Cheap is that this book is fundamentally about the strength of female friendship. Tourmaline and Victoria have both received more than their fair share of hard knocks in life, and from the outset they’re just using each other to achieve their own ends. But watching the connection between them grow and be forged into something really powerful was probably my favorite part of the entire story.
Our two protagonists are superbly badass, and I loved reading about these two women who had no time for bullshit. Tourmaline is the Warden’s president’s daughter, and still harbors guilt over a mistake that sent her mother to prison. Victoria works as a dealer for a sketchy lawyer, and doesn’t see a path to freedom in her future. Both Tourmaline and Victoria felt so original and wonderful, and I appreciated how the author didn’t force them into instant best friends. Their relationship is fraught, and neither completely trusts each other, but by the end they become a truly fearsome duo.
Another major positive of Done Dirt Cheap is the way the biker club, the Wardens, is represented. While Tourmaline’s perception of her father’s club is challenged throughout the novel, Lemon does a good job of portraying them in a way that refutes some of the nastier stereotypes of bikers. As someone whose father rode motorcycles for my entire life, I really appreciated that. Done Dirt Cheap earns the Sons of Anarchy comparison because there is a biker club in the narrative, not because they sell drugs or steal firearms. (This is where I admit that I’ve never watched an episode of Sons of Anarchy, but I know that gang is much more violent and…illegal in its activities than the Wardens in Done Dirt Cheap.)
I did have some issues with this book, especially as it relates to one of the relationships that I found to be a bit too much for me. Tourmaline and Victoria are both eighteen, and form relationships with older men (one considerably older). One of the romances made me a bit uncomfortable, and I didn’t really love the whole idea that they /had/ to end up in relationships with men who “saved” them. Just not how I would have liked that to play out. In all honesty, going into this book I expected Tourmaline and Victoria to end up together. No such luck. While I liked that we get positive representation of an interracial romance, it must be said that this book has literally one person of color. That’s it. Obviously, I found this disappointing.
Done Dirt Cheap is a great example of upper-YA with characters who are of age, make adult choices, and have to deal with adult consequences. I do wish Tourmaline and Victoria would have been in college, maybe 20 or so, but that’s just my personal desire for more “age appropriate” character situations. I felt that eighteen was a little young for this novel, but all that being said, I did enjoy this. Done Dirt Cheap is an original, kickass tale about two fierce female protagonists.
Rating: 3.75 stars
*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.