Title: Grrrls on the Side
Author: Carrie Pack
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: June 8, 2017
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up.
At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a place to belong. But just as Tabitha is settling in with her new friends and beginning to think she understands herself, eighteen-year-old Jackie Hardwick walks into a meeting and changes her world forever. The out-and-proud Jackie is unlike anyone Tabitha has ever known. As her feelings for Jackie grow, Tabitha begins to learn more about herself and the racial injustices of the punk scene, but to be with Jackie, she must also come to grips with her own privilege and stand up for what’s right.
I’ve been reading really good books lately, and this one is certainly no exception. I wasn’t even born until 1995, a year after this book is set, but Grrrls on the Side still managed to create some sort of nostalgia in me for a scene and time I never got to experience. This book is a bit mixed media in the way that the author incorporates ‘zines into the story. The ‘zines really serve as a creative way to effectively bring to life the whole “90’s” feel, allowing the reader to really transport themselves back in time.
This book may be set in 1994, but it still manages to be so timely. So many important issues are touched on throughout this book, like sexuality, racism, weight, and sexism. Our main character Tabitha is a fat bisexual girl, so I was able to find myself in her so easily. There were a few moments when Tabitha is bullied for her weight or sexuality that really struck close to home for me.
The way that the punk scene was portrayed was interesting to read, as I generally gravitate towards the modern “alternative” scene myself. Carrie Pack does a great job of showing the different issues that come up when analyzing that scene, like racial inequality and sexism. At the time (and still to this day, to be totally honest), punk or “alternative” music was a very white male dominated area, and you can see the issues that arise from this in the pages of this book.
If you’re looking for something that will make you nostalgic for the 90’s, or want to read something packed with girl power, give Grrrls on the Side a shot. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.