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Anatomy of a Girl Gang

Anatomy of a Girl Gang

By Ashley Little
Categories: Women's Literature, Youth Culture, Fiction
Paperback : 9781551525297, 256 pages, 2013


Winner, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (BC Book Prizes)

Finalist, Vancouver Book Award

A sharply observed novel told in six voices, Anatomy of a Girl Gang is the powerful exploration of a young girl gang in Vancouver called the Black Roses: Mac, the self-appointed leader and mastermind; Mercy, the Punjabi princess with a skill for theft; Kayos, their former classmate who gave birth to a daughter at age thirteen; Sly Girl, who fled her First Nations reserve for a better life, only to find depravity and addiction; and Z, a sixteen-year-old anti-establishment graffiti artist.

Cast out by mainstream society, the five girls terrorize Vancouver with a primal, restless urgency. As they navigate from ATM robberies to cooking crack on the stove to savagely avenging the beating of one of their own, they hope and wait for better days that will turn into a better life, even as the darkness of fate draws inevitably nearer.

Told with shocking and at times brutal honesty, Anatomy of a Girl Gang is a vivid and unnerving story of urban girl culture.


  • Winner, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (BC Book Prizes) 2014
  • Short-listed, Vancouver Book Award 2014


Both gripping and moving, Anatomy of a Girl Gang is a tight, grim portrait with deep empathy for characters capable of horrific deeds. -Kirkus Reviews (STARRED)

- Kirkus Reviews

Anatomy of a Girl Gang is a riveting read, an important read. It is a modern-day The Outsiders, that iconic staple of English classrooms everywhere, where the switchblades have been replaced by guns, where the boys have been replaced by girls, and where the rumbles have been replaced by murder. And like all good literature, it forces us to look at ourselves, and the immediate world in which we live. And then, only then, can we start to understand, and can we start to make change. -Gastown Gazette

- Gastown Gazette

Ashley Little's book grabs you by the larynx and does not let go. Reading, no, listening to these girls' voices is like being that nurse or paramedic on the scene without any defibrillator or oxygen. Sly Girl takes your breath away; Mercy makes you want to go on a five-finger discount walk with her; Z and Mac kiss graf across the city; and Kayos kicks ass against anyone who goes against her Black Roses. And in the voice of the city, Vancouver, takes these precious gang girls into her arms and, we hope, loves them back to themselves, to where they need to be: whole and in bloom.
-Cathleen With, author of skids and Having Faith in the Polar Girls' Prison

- Cathleen With

A daring book. It doesn't flinch from the glamorous lure of gang life or its devastating effects.
-Georgia Straight

- Georgia Straight

It seems destined to shock and thrill younger readers - think Go Ask Alice minus the moralizing. The plot moves at top speed, much like the characters themselves: running headlong into the night, propelled by the certainty that everything will fall apart if you stop too long to think. -Lambda Literary

- Lambda Literary

Ashley Little continues her exploration of voices not generally heard in a second novel that hums with authenticity: a forceful narrative about the inner turmoil of forgotten children.
-Dennis E. Bolen, author of Anticipated Results

- Dennis E. Bolen

Anatomy of a Girl Gang paints an almost perfect picture of a group of girls doing what feels good - and the bloody aftermath that follows . .. A thrilling read.

- Xtra

Ashley Little's novel Anatomy of a Girl Gang is so fierce and raw and compelling that you won't want to put the book down until you know exactly what becomes of the Black Roses . .. A thrilling and frightening, fast-paced read.
-Vancouver Weekly

- Vancouver Weekly

For a novel that deals with such disturbing content, this book is heartfelt and tremendously moving . .. Anatomy of a Girl Gang is triumphant, beautiful, startling, sad and gritty -- a powerful feminist coming-of-age novel. -Geist

- Geist

Anatomy of a Girl Gang is a heartbreaking read, a must for high schools across the continent, and just too goddamn real for comfort.

- Backlisted

Ashley Little spent years doing intensive research for this novel, and the results are spectacular in a tough and gritty way ... [It's] a must-read for anyone striving to understand more of the human condition. -CM Magazine

- CM Magazine

Relentlessly gritty and in your face, this novel makes some urban lit look like just bling. -Library Journal

- Library Journal