Fans of the hit podcast “My Favorite Murder,” including myself, were elated upon the 2019 release of Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s first novel “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered”. Whether or not you are an avid follower of the podcast, or even enjoy true crime, “SSDGM” is a memoir-esque novel with something to capture the attention of every reader.
The first thing you notice when reading “SSDGM,” especially if you listen to the podcast, is the honest and distinct voices of the narrators. Kilgariff and Hardstark write as though they are speaking directly to you — colloquialisms, profanity, and all. The novel is an intimate experience even before it reaches the authors’ retelling of formative, inspiring, and sometimes brutal experiences. Rawness is a constant throughout the novel, with Kilgariff and Hardstark rejecting superficiality in order to give their audience, many of whom have “known them” for years, a genuine glimpse of their realities.
This honesty is only exemplified through the book’s subject material, from Karen Kilgariff’s recounting of her struggles with substance abuse to Georgia Hardstark’s candid portrayal of her toxic family and challenging adolescence. Kilgariff and Hardstark do not shy away from these difficult topics, nor do they position them as merely anecdotal. Instead, they choose to acknowledge their pasts as aspects of themselves that continue to shape who they are, and that, in part, they must overcome. Neither author pantomimes perfection in “SSDGM”, further contributing to the intimacy that the novel facilitates.
Empowerment is unsurprisingly as crucial of a takeaway from “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered” as it is from “My Favorite Murder.” As prominent advocates for mental health awareness, access to therapy, and removing stigma around mental illness, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark remind their audience of the importance of practicing patience with themselves.
In documenting their low points and subsequent recoveries, Kilgariff and Hardstark normalize struggles with mental health, family, and identity, while offering their readers, especially young women, hope of overcoming their circumstances. Furthermore, Kilgariff and Hardstark emphasize the importance of women trusting their instincts in relationships and daily interactions. Dismantling the notion that women should prioritize politeness over their gut feelings and safety, the duo emphasizes the validity of women’s agency and urges their female audience to unapologetically advocate for themselves.
Not only is “SSDGM” an unflinching illustration of Kilgariff and Hardstark’s lives and identities, it is also a genuinely funny read. Encapsulating the humorous idiosyncrasies of their childhoods, rebellious adolescent years, and confusing adult years, “SSDGM” is a perfect mesh of comic relief and sage advice. Kilgariff and Hardstark navigate the balance between sobering memoir and comedic adventure gracefully, integrating styles that are traditionally deemed contradictory.
Furthering “My Favorite Murder”’s reputation for advocacy, grit, and humor, “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered” is a must-read for anyone in need of advice, perspective, or a good laugh. Uplifting and honest, these popular podcast hosts reveal the intimacies of their lives courageously. Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are brilliant role models for an audience of thousands, and their sense of responsibility in guiding and entertaining them could not be more evident in their first publication.
You find Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered” here and listen to their podcast “My Favorite Murder” on Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, and Apple Podcasts. “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered” is also available as an audiobook read by the authors.