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The Elissas

Samantha Leach

5 Reviews

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True crime

Elissa. Alyssa. Alissa. Three girls meet at a boarding school for troubled teens. A few years later, they were dead. Elissa's best friend sets out to discover what happened to them, following the only clues they left behind: their uncannily similar names and their shared tattoo - Save Our Souls.

There wasn't anything I wouldn't do for Elissa, and she knew it.

Samantha and her best friend Elissa don't follow the rules, stealing drinks, pulling pranks, and having boys over in Samantha's basement. Until Elissa is sent away, to a school designed to reform wealthy, wayward teenagers. A year later, she is dead.

In Samantha's grief, she scours Elissa's social media pages and notices memorial messages from two girls called Alyssa and Alissa. Both sign off their messages with 'Save Our Souls' - a phrase Elissa had tattooed on her ribs. Samantha learns that they were Elissa's closest friends at the school, sharing both her name and penchant for partying, with drugs and alcohol having become their norm. Too soon, Alyssa and Alissa are also dead.

Elissa. Alyssa. Alissa. Following the only clues they left behind - their uncannily similar names and their shared tattoo - Samantha sets out to discover what happened to The Elissas. Save our souls...

A stunning true story, perfect for fans of We Were Liars and true crime readers alike.

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Praise for The Elissas

  • In The Elissas, Samantha Leach writes with great compassion about the pressures on girls to live up to today's punishing beauty standards. With insight and precision, Leach exposes the ways in which the so-called Troubled Teen Industry preys upon girls' vulnerability and capitalizes on their parents' naivete-and bank accounts. The Elissas is both a deeply personal story of loss and an indictment of the societal forces that contributed to robbing a young woman of those closest to her. Leach's investigation into how the Elissas perished adds much to our understanding of how dangerous misogyny can be to the health and well-being of girls and young women. - New York Times bestselling author of American Girls and Nothing Personal

  • A decade after losing her best friend, Samantha Leach is haunted by her loss. Why was she spared the fate that befell Elissa? In incisive, fearless prose Leach investigates the realities of the Troubled Teen Industry and reevaluates her own role in the chaos and rebellion of adolescence. There are hard truths about girlhood, friendship, and boundaries in The Elissas, each of them heart-rending and ultimately, inspiring. - New York Times bestselling author of Sweetbitter and Stray

  • Rebellious and real, troubled yet hopeful, The Elissas presents an abiding portrait of friendship forged in the coercive clutches of upper and middle class America. From the basements of suburban homes to the innermost workings of the Troubled Teen industry, Samantha Leach holds a magnifying glass to adolescent girlhood and the capitalist forces that equate youth with desirability, beauty with success, safety with secrecy. - author of Aesthetica and Jell-O Girls

  • ...a searing expose. - Publisher s Weekly (Starred Review)

  • Samantha Leach's The Elissas is a compelling fusion of memoir, reportage and cultural analysis that serves as both a damning indictment of the exploitative troubled teen industry and a compassionate look at the young people who have fallen prey to it. - author of The Gilded Razor

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Samantha Leach

Samantha Leach is the entertainment editor at large at Bustle. She has also written for Glamour, Elle, NYLON, and many other publications. The Elissas is her first book

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