GIRL by Blake Nelson


Email this review


A hyperactive debut novel of teen rebellion by a writer who watched too much MTV. When Andrea is a Portland, Oreg., high school sophomore, her friend Cybil calls her from the mall one day, frantic because she has shaved her head and it looks awful. Cybil then forms a rock band and begins to infiltrate the local music scene. At the same time, Andrea first lays eyes on Todd, a rock guru and all-round cute guy. Initially, Andrea is somewhat involved in high school goings-on and dates a popular older jock, but she begins to rebel by going to clubs to see Cybil's band (first named Bed Head, then Thriftstore Apocalypse, and finally Sins of Our Fathers) and buying vintage clothing. Andrea narrates her story (which reads like a diary, although it is not marked as such) breathlessly, and that energy is exhausting as she details all the superficial particulars of her life but fails to comment much on her own emotional state. One of Andrea's happiest moments comes when Cybil steers her and a friend to a clothing store called HOP!, ""the coolest place."" Occasionally there are astute naive-narrator insights (""the whole fun of high school is that everything is supposed to be everybody's business""), but more often than not, Andrea's teenspeak sounds like a bad Valley Girl parody (""And she tried to be cool but we were both like, Derek and Jonathan are gay!""). Nelson (who has written for Details magazine) does manage to cover early sexual experiences (both voluntary and involuntary) in a natural way, but Andrea's all-consuming crush on Todd is a drag on forward momentum, and Cybil -- supposedly the narrator's closest friend -- remains a cipher for much of the story. This may appeal more to the young-adult market, but those readers are sure to be extremely sensitive to any slips in authenticity. Like, not so great.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1416948031
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster