Book Review: Don’t Forget the Girl by Rebecca McKanna

A slow burn. Dark and introspective.

Rebecca McKanna’s fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Mystery Stories 2019 and honored as a distinguished story in The Best American Short Stories 2019. Her work has appeared as one of Narrative Magazine’s Stories of the Week and has been published in Colorado Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, Joyland, Third Coast, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among other publications. She has received financial support from the Sewanee Writers Conference and the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. An assistant professor of English at the University of Indianapolis, she earned her MFA from Purdue University. Rebecca was born and raised in Iowa.

Don’t Forget the Girl by Rebecca McKanna explores the complexities of friendship, and focuses on the lives of the victims, direct and indirectinstead of the serial killerswho are often forgotten about. The premise was interesting and I enjoyed learning about the relationships between the three women across two timelines. The multiple POVs was engaging, and the suspense leading up to Abby’s death kept me turning the pages. It was very introspective and the use of the crime podcast, along with the online commentary, broke up the text making it easier to read. I enjoyed the online media snippets regarding the crimes and thought it was a nice creative touch, breaking up the structure of the novel, rather than revealing in dialogue or internal character narration. The best part of the book (for me) was the friendship between Chelsea and Bree, and how it strengthened over the course of the story.

That being said, I definitely prefer more pulse pounding action, and I would have liked to learn about the other victims to fully understand the extent of Jon Allan Blue’s crimes, without going into too much detail. An aspect of the book that didn’t work for me came at the end. After learning about Bree’s major character flaw early onhaving a sexual relationship with her studentI think the final repercussions weren’t severe enough given the nature of the crime. It made for somewhat of a dissatisfying ending to her character arc.


For readers who enjoy complex characters, strong female protagonists, and dark topics.

Published June 20th, 2023


We never remember the dead girls. We never forget the killers.

Twelve years ago, 18-year-old University of Iowa freshman Abby Hartmann disappeared. Now, Jon Allan Blue, the serial killer suspected of her murder, is about to be executed. Abby’s best friends, Bree and Chelsea, watch as Abby’s memory is unearthed and overshadowed by Blue and his flashier crimes. The friends, estranged in the wake of Abby’s disappearance, and suffering from years of unvoiced resentments, must reunite when a high-profile podcast dedicates its next season to Blue’s murders.

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