More misfits from the author of Girlchild (2012).
Being a teen is tough on everyone, but Helen Dedleder has it particularly hard. She lives in Rosary, California, a tiny refinery town so conservative that internet access is circumscribed. What knowledge she has of the outside world comes via radio broadcasts from Sky, a nearby city. She lives with her devoutly evangelical father, but she works at the shop where her Aunt Bev tells fortunes and offers other, more intimate, services. She is infatuated with Bird Doncaster, a classic bad boy who also happens to be her potential stepbrother. She is best friends with Winthrop Epsworthy, until Win falls in love with her. At every turn, Helen is pulled between irreconcilable opposites. Sometimes this tension propels her to make bad decisions. Sometimes she makes bad decisions without any help at all. It is, perhaps, easier to appreciate this novel by not thinking of it as a novel. It’s written in the first person, there’s a lot more telling than showing, and there are vast narrative territories that are barely explored. Read as a collection of very short fictions, though, the book coalescences as a melancholy, triumphant, slightly magical coming-of-age tale. Hassman creates a world that seems to be defined through stark dualities, but the story tends toward chaos in the sense that no certainty, no opposition, goes unquestioned. Things fall apart. Insiders and outsiders trade places. The powerful become powerless. At the same time, the story—the collection of stories—moves toward unity, self-actualization, and transcendence. Helen learns who she is and what she wants. She lets the people who love her help her. And she and her loser friends become something much more than the sum of their parts.
Weird and uncomfortable and glorious—just like adolescence.