A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{December 12, 2011}   Sister Mischief by Laura Goode

Plot: Esme, Tess, Rowie and Marcy are Sister Mischief, four rhyming, rapping subburban girls from Holyhill. When their school decides to ban hip-hop culture from campus, they are outraged. They decide to start 4H: Hip-Hop for Heteros and Homos, with or without school approval, to discuss the impact of the music they love and issues of race and sexuality that arise from it. But while they are very open about their rebellion against the school, Esme and Rowie are less so about their budding romance.

I will start this out by saying that I know next to nothing about hip hop; even my knowledge of modern poetry is somewhat shaky (my studies of English Lit were mostly about the long dead). So I will make no attempts to critique the accuracy of how Goode portrays this sub-culture. But I will say that she described it with such passion that she’s peaked my curiosity.

But whatever sub-culture they adhere to, these girls are word nerds through and through and that I can understand. They are smart and sassy and they were an absolute pleasure to meet. Their tight bond is touching and their passion infectious. It was an inspiring story.

The romance was a bit less satisfying (though it started out quite sweet). It may be realistic (and completely understandable) for a teenage girl to fear revealing her love for another girl, but it was a bit disappointing in the context of a book about these fierce girls fighting for what they believe in regardless of the consequences. But that’s ok. Because though Esme’s homosexuality is an important issue in the novel, this is a story about sisterhood, not romance. And the friendships remains strong throughout.

There was only one thing that took me a little out of the story. Are 17 year old girls as self-aware as Sister Mischief, are they all such critical thinkers? Was I? I’d like to think so but, though the issues they discuss are important, at times it feels like good is teaching us rather than telling a story. I like to tease out the themes and the meanings rather than having it spelled out for me in the dialogue. But maybe that’s just my inner English Lit student talking.

Challenges: 2011 Debut author challenge (8), GLBT Challenge (15)


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