MOSH PIT by Kristyn Dunnion (Red Deer Press), 272 pages, $12.95 paper. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Mosh pit is a delightful slap in the face of your grade 11 reading list. It's Sweet Valley High if the twins were working-class high school dropouts who joined an army of punk rock sex workers, drag queens and underage alcoholics. Kristyn Dunnion, aka Miss Kitty Galore, a trash-talking high-femme Toronto performance artist, is also a writer, and her narrative style rivals her glittery frocks: sharp, over-the-top and refreshing.
Mosh Pit is the double-dare-ya teen dream novel for all the young freaks who wish they could see themselves, or some aspects of their real lives, in print.
While many novels in the young adult genre take chances in terms of subject matter, they're often moralizing, rife with girl victims and tales of suburban malaise, completely ignoring the complexity of adolescent queerness, if they go there at all.
While my generation of dykes grew up identifying with S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders despite the fact that there was only one chick in the gang (the prissy Cherry, also the name of Mosh Pit's main bad girl - hmm), contemporary genderqueers, sex outlaws and high school sluts can find real reflections of their complicated lives in the pages of Mosh Pit.
Simone is the tender-hearted dyke in love with her best friend, the manipulative rebel girl Cherry, whose addiction issues and crazed home life turn her into a mighty terror and the ultimate muse for a butch-in-training. Simone draws us into her world of after-hours biker bars, pursuit by the cops and efforts to take care of her mentally ill single mother, all the while being Cherry's dog. Gradually, she gains a sense of self through her love of lovely non-archetypal teen ho Carol and her own newfound optimism about the future.
Mosh Pit is addictive, seductive, fast-paced and, ultimately, a sweet coming-of-age story for people who hate sweet coming-of-age stories.
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