Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Notes from the Teenage Underground

I heard about this book on a blog (maybe Inkcrush, because it's awesome, and Aussie, like so many of her recs). It has been sitting on my bedside table for weeks. Now that the semester is well underway my reading time has plummeted. Finally, though, I was able to start this little jewel last week.

Mini-synopsis: Gem and her two closest friends Lo and Mira don't care what you think of them. They only care about being different, making a little trouble and a lot of fun. They decide on a summer plan to do something extraordinary: but they don't quite agree what that should be.

Gem is set on making a film, and the more she is drawn into the creative process, the less she feels like playing games with Lo and Mira. She feels she's pulling apart from them, but isn't quite sure how to be herself, by herself.

Add in a hippie mom, and overzealous school counselor, a missing dad who sends haiku, Andy Warhol*, Germaine Greer and a few video store employees.

All I can say is: Voice.

This book is my go-to example for voice now.

It is so different from anything I would write, but the voice just erupted from each page, and the characters were stunning. I loved the lingo of cynical high school girls, and so want to use "sucker peers" in a conversation, but nobody would get it.

It was a compelling read, and though I worried about Gem sometimes (I often worry about a young female protagonist) she proved intelligent, clever, and talented. I was rooting for her so hard, and so happy with the Gem she turned out to be in the end.

* I really really love Andy Warhol. I once bought an Andy Warhol daybook and though it was something like 12 years old I still used it as my calendar for a year. All the days and dates were mismatched, and I still used it.

It was filled with incredible quotes that kept me laughing. One I can only paraphrase because I somehow can't find it on the web.

Beautiful people are always late because they know you'll wait for them. Then when they're late, they are nice and apologetic, which makes them more beautiful.

and this lovely number:
"What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it."


  1. thoughtful review as always - you might have seen it on my blog - I listed it once or twice as it has won some major awards here (including the Golden Inky)

    I worry about characters too!

    And I agree about voice. I liked her next novel even better although it was full-on - just screaming with voice: Everything Beautiful.


  2. I love discovering new books! This one sounds right up my alley. Great review. :)

  3. What a great post, thank you! I love books where the voice just pops out at you, even where--as you say--it's not a voice I'd ever write myself. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Почему регистрация не работает ?


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