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The Bad Girl

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  72 ratings  ·  27 reviews
New York City. 1971. Meet Riley Madison, a pugnacious, young woman who makes her living in Times Square; Samson, her feisty, devoted cat; Fitz Darcy, the larger-than-life Vietnam vet; and Bennie Sadowski, the compassionate Holocaust survivor.

It is against this seedy neon backdrop of an already over-crowded city where the homeless huddle on cardboard beds and muggings are t
Paperback, 156 pages
Published November 20th 2015 by Walthem Books (first published November 2015)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  72 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Whispering Stories
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Bad Girl is under 200 pages long, but it’s one of the most intense novellas I have read. It packs an emotional punch, exploring the life of Riley Madison, a 22-year-old barely getting by in early 70s New York.

It’s 1971 and the Big Apple is rife with crime. It’s on the streets and down in the subway. We’re introduced to an area called ‘The Deuce’, a stretch of block ‘packed ear to ear’ with illicit drugs, sex and violence.

In the midst of this seedy backdrop is Riley, the eponymous ‘Bad Girl’.
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who can read...
I have this brilliant novella available for review at the moment (July 2016). If you would like to read and review it please email me at for your ebook copy.

Wow. Just about an emotional whammy.

I was sucked into this novella like I fell into a black hole, from the first page I was mesmerised by the talented writing of L. Donsky-Levine. This was, in my opinion written incredibly well. This is not a light read by any means, it's very emotional and tackles some

Riley is a mess, but she has cats, and her cats love her, especially Samson. Samson narrates the first chapter, which may appeal to cat-lovers and would certainly have appealed to Riley, who carries him with her in her backpack when she’s evicted. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

She’s a school drop-out, abandoned at 12 by her druggie mother, and whose livelihood in New York City depends on her ability to satisfy the men whose fancies she tickles when they poke them through the hole in the whor
Linda Strong
Set in New York City in the early 1970’s, this book takes a hard look at Riley Madison. She’s a 22-year-old woman working in the sex trade in order to survive. She has no friends, only her cats. Riley feels like she’s stuck in quicksand… going nowhere fast.

Due to an illness, she is unable to work for a couple of months. No work equals no pay. She finds herself homeless, living on the street.

This is an emotionally hard story to read. There but for the Grace of God …

She meets some really interes
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it

This has been a review I needed to sit on for a while.

This is full on raw emotions, it could happen to anyone.
This is the 1970's and Riley's way of making a living is in the sex trade.

She has some experiences that you could only gulp at. She has to work in the most oldest profession known to man to keep her head above water.

Then she gets sick. The money she relied on is now no longer and she finds herself homeless.

This authors writing shares with the reader the darkest pits of human life. When
Terry Tyler
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber's Review Team

I liked this book a lot. It's witty, sharp, unusual, touching and so well written. Set in downtown New York in the 1970s, this is a fairly long novella about Riley, a lonely girl working in the sex trade with no company except her beloved cats, and Fitz, a one-armed Vietnam vet.

I read in the author's bio that she's a native New Yorker, and her knowledge of and love for the city is so apparent in this story. It's what I think of
April Wood
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bad Girl was so engrossing, I finished it within one sitting! Riley Madison’s character is troubled and disturbed. She is still a sympathetic character because her heart is kind. This novel would appeal to readers who enjoy angsty books about troubled women.
Though troubled, her kind acts warmed her to me. The secondary characters, on the other hand, weren't well developed and felt extra to me, and there were a couple scenarios in the novel that didn’t seem logical.
The ending was completely
Tayler Steele
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Booklover Catlady Publicity for a copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review!

I could not put this novella down.

It was impossible not to fall for these characters. Each one will tug on your heartstrings in different ways, because each one is so unique. Riley, the rough and tough city girl hiding a heart of gold and trying to beat the odds; Bennie, the saint and savior; Fitz, the hippy veteran who believes in others despite all the reasons not to. I just can't get over how am
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Personally speaking, I always feel like I'm taking a risk with short stories or novellas. There's a chance that the characters can be undeveloped and two-dimensional or that there is unnecessary padding. Not so in this one. Short and snappy but with enough character development, so that you feel like you are catching a brief glimpse into the window of someone's life.

That someone is Riley, only 22 years old but having already gone through a lifetime of drama she now finds herself jobless after a
Misfits farm
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 * Riley has had to work in the oldest profession in town to keep her head above water. The love of her life is feline and one in particular tells us part of the story from his perspective. After being beaten up and simultaneously being thrown out, Riley is on the streets. Help comes from an unlikely source that she has only met once and also from someone who has watched her from afar.
An uplifting story of “bad girl” making good. Written with sympathy and empathy, Riley becomes a very likeabl
Barbara Tsipouras
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychodrama
It's not a pleasant book. Riley's story is a sad one. Even sader is the fact that there are so many people out there having made similar experiences. This novella shows the consequences to her ability to trust and to love. It describes her struggle to change her life.
Unlike others I'm not enthusiastic about the chapters from the cat's POV, that's probably because I don't have a cat.

I want to thank Maxine from Booklover Catlady Publicity for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Cathy Ryan
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1970s-fiction
Although this is a novella it packs a huge emotional punch. It’s a dark look at one very damaged girl’s fight to survive in 1970s New York. Riley Madison works in The Deuce, an area of Manhattan well known to the police and those who liked to indulge their individual pleasures. At just twenty-two, Riley does what she has to in order to survive. Her life has been a series of horrendous situations and, emotionally scarred, she can’t envisage herself ever having a better life. Despite it all, she e ...more
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-books-read
This is a novella set in 1970s New York with a lovely cat called Samson. Samson is a Havana Brown.


He unwillingly shares his rather cramped flat with 4 moggies - and they are all indoor cats - they never venture out into the wide world.

They live with Girl.

Girl is lonely, a bookworm and has a very nasty landlord.

Fitz is a soldier returned from Vietnam who is an amputee and meets Girl after she loses her job in the sex industry (not as a prostitute she emphasises). Her job pays the bills, u
S.R. Mallery
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Wow. What a powerful book! Real, gritty, shocking, not for the faint of heart, nevertheless, this one-of-a-kind novella/romance/personal portrait brings forth an important message: no matter life’s harrowing pitfalls or cruelties, no matter how crushed one’s soul is, there is a “winner” in each and every one of us. And when that winner inside starts to trust the right people, there’s a glimmer of hope . . . and justice.

Highly recommended for anyone looking for a truly
Babus Ahmed
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This debut novella is set in New York, 1971, Reilly is a young girl fending for herself, she rescues animals but is very much as risk. Things get much darker and worse for Reilly after she is ejected from her home. She has a glimmer of hope in a man she meets at an animal shelter, but can things really be different for her?

This rather unusual novella is an engaging, if not difficult read. You cannot help but root for Reilly when so much has obviously damaged her in her short life. I was moved a
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thank you to booklover Catlady for this in exchange for an honest review

A really good book . I enjoyed this book and it had me going through every emotion from the beginning to end. It was well written and a good story line although short it had everything in it you could want and stays with you after reading it. recommended read
Josephine Briggs
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: new-yorkers
OUTCASTS OF SOCIETY. This novella begins as Riley's cat, Samson, tells his owner and protector's story. Samson thinks he is wonderful, quite opposite from Riley's opinion of herself. Samson is one of five cats living in her apartment. Riley loves animals and cannot see them being mistreated. She does not like or trust humans. She has many reasons not to.

Riley works at a sex emporium serving anyone who can pay. She's not qualified for better jobs. She has only a seventh grade education. She is on
Roxie Prince
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read this review and more on my blog at [Roxie Writes].

'The Bad Girl' by L. Donsky-Levine
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5
Finished on August 25, 2016
$.99 on Kindle | $8.99 in Paperback

It's 1971, and Riley Madison is a wounded woman trying to live, but always running and always fearful. And she has reason to be after the life she's had. She's forced to make ends meet giving blowjobs in the seediest part of the city, and the only comfort she has in her life are the many c
Rajalakshmi Prithviraj
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are stories that leave an imprint in the hearts and minds of the readers. This book did just that for me. I read it in one session but the story never left me or my mind for the next few days.

The plot revolves around a girl who has to fight every odd that comes her way in order to survive. This story is about vulnerabilities, relationships and finding a home. It is a journey of self-discovery, of goodness and love.

Donsky's writings appeal to every sense that exists. It made me feel pain, h
Agnes (BookBubbe)
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was sent this book by the author to give an honest review, I wasn't sure I would like it. It didn't seem like my type of book. Especially when I received a note from the author saying "Just as a footnote, the book is a gritty and realistic snapshot of life; which means profanity and a small smattering of some graphic imagery are necessary in order to stay in that lane. I just wanted to give you that heads up before you dive in."

I am far from a prude, (and I live in NY - seen it all) so I
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book! I couldn't put this book down. It left me wanting more. I wanted the story to continue and just read more. It's a love story but with a twist. The story was well told and well written. The background of Riley the main character was laid out nicely so you had a feel for what she had been through and what type of life she was used to. Then reading her story in Riley's present was all detailed well. In the beginning the story is told through the eyes of one of Riley's cats ...more
Jessie Stevens
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
This was hard to read.

I wanted more.

It was a conundrum.

You see, as hard as it was to read about a girl attempting to pull herself out of some of life's most horrible situations, I still wanted to know more about her. This book, a novella really, is complete and full, it doesn't technically need more. But that's not stopping me from wanting it to have more.

The jumps in time throughout the story left me, not disoriented, but sad. I wanted to know how she'd been getting along when we weren't a part
Sandy Harris
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of THE BAD GIRL via an online giveaway. THE BAD GIRL is a novella that’s sexually explicit and depressing at the beginning and gradually eases into more plot and character development. While the plot is predictable, I found myself rooting for the main characters so that when the story abruptly ended, I was wishing for more. The novella definitely has potential…
Chester J.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Harriet B Gold
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a raw and explosive novel. The story tells us how sexual exploitation can nearly destroy a young girl. Love for her pets forces her into further depravity just to provide food and shelter for all of them. Illness causes change and challenges her to confront the person who set her on this road to complete destruction.
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gripping, witty, and direct to the point storyline, the style of writing is very flowing so you do get a sense of the hustle and bustle of the setting through the Authors words. A good quick read which makes you want more!
Wanda Glenn
Don't bother

The previous reviews written about this book must have been written by relatives of the writer! A waste of time.
Gary L. Grandy
rated it really liked it
Jun 18, 2017
Patty Mauf
rated it liked it
Feb 14, 2016
jaye roseborough
rated it it was ok
Jun 17, 2016
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L. Donsky-Levine was born and raised in New York and where according to her mother, she was writing before she even walked, telling those stories with a twig in the dirt. But it would take a lifetime, her "Hello" letter from AARP and the raising of a family before that career as storyteller would come to fruition. In her trademark witty and wise fashion, she crafts stories crossing all genres, all ...more

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“But to Fitz she’d always be invisible. An impossible task of face and body for which he had yet to conquer. And should he somehow manage to crack her open like rotten fruit on the vine, he’d only find decay and ugliness, from which she had to assume he’d run. Damaged goods were damaged goods.” 3 likes
“History teaches us that the events of the past shape our future. It begs us to not forget. To not wipe clean the memories. It tells us to use all that we know to honor our cultural differences and rectify those injustices in this great story of human existence. It provokes us to think. To act. To develop a better lens in which we see the world and keep us safe. It gives us meaning. It provides opportunity to build character and integrity in the lives of our children. And it teaches us the most important lesson of all … hope. For without that, there’s nothing.” 1 likes
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