What Happened to Paula: On the Death of an American Girl


Product Details

$26.95  $24.79
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.3 X 1.1 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Katherine Dykstra is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her essays have been published in the Washington Post, Poets and Writers, and Real Simple, among other periodicals. She lives with her husband and two children in New Jersey.


A vivid, unflinching account, with its share of rage and sensitivity, equal in power and tenderness, What Happened to Paula is the story of the daring task of living in a female body. This deeply moving investigation is required reading for anyone who is or knows a woman.--Mira Ptacin, author of Poor Your Soul and The In-Betweens
The most chilling thing about What Happened to Paula is that although Paula died fifty years ago, her story could be that of a teenage girl in 1990 or 2000 or today. This is essential reading, as gripping as any thriller.--Julia Dahl, author of Invisible City and The Missing Hours
The missing-girl narrative can create a sort of pleasing cleanliness around the idea of violence against women: a heinous act, an innocent girl, all to be properly vilified and mourned. What Happened to Paula upends and unpacks all the smaller, subtler, scarier violences that live inside of this: what of all the ways the girl wasn't innocent, what of all the ways none of us are?--Lynn Steger Strong, author of Want
Dykstra casts a searing light on racism, sexism, and the stigma of being a 'bad' girl. This is the perfect blueprint for any true crime writer moved to investigate a cold case.-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review)"
A book like no other. A murder mystery. A powerful exploration of what it means to be a vibrant woman in this cold, unfeeling, and somehow, still wonderful world. Debut author Katherine Dykstra will blow your mind.--Marcy Dermansky, author of Very Nice
Paula's story is riveting--not only for her time, but for our own. This book is fascinating, heartbreaking, and empowering all at once.--Abby Sher, coauthor of Sanctuary
A sharp and seductive investigation into the unsolved death of a young woman fifty years ago becomes, in Dykstra's telling, an investigation into the genre of dead-girl true crime itself. A bracing and powerful book, unsentimental and sleek, and a roadmap for actual change.--Lacy Crawford, author of Notes on a Silencing