Missing Sarah: A Memoir of Loss by Maggie DeVries | Book Review

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In general, I’m used to not throughly enjoying books that I’m expected to read for classes. Missing Sarah was definitely a surprise, but a welcome one.

Growing up in Vancouver, I’ve been hearing about this case and the trial that followed it since the investigation of the farm began. It became almost folkloric. Every time you turned on the TV there was another media report about Robert Pickton and his farm that carried the DNA of over fifteen women. Parents panicked, reiterating the same “Don’t talk to strangers” spiel that every kid gets in elementary school. My perspective of the case is only what I heard through the media or overheard my parents talking about, but until reading this memoir, I didn’t fully grasp the enormity of it.

In ‘Missing Sarah’, Maggie DeVries tells the story of her adopted sister, Sarah DeVries, through Sarah’s journal entries, poems and Maggie’s own memories of their childhood.

While the media representation throughout the trial both lumped all the women together in a single group of “missing women” and focused almost entirely on Robert Pickton, the man behind the murders of a large number of women from Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, Missing Sarah highlights the victims, the individual women Pickton murdered. DeVries brings  Sarah’s voice to life, giving context to her life as a prostitute and establishing a connection to her deceased sister.

Another aspect of the book that I found especially interesting was the scholarly approach DeVries took to prostitution as a whole. She examines the way it functions now and looks for solutions to the violence that the women suffer on a daily basis.

This memoir, while definitely a personal experience for DeVries, is also aiming to be educational to the population, to create some social awareness and hopefully bring about change to an area that is mostly overlooked.

Highly recommend to anyone living in Vancouver – due to the alternate perspective of the Pickton trial, or to anyone who enjoys memoirs.

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