Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rose of No Man's Land by Michelle Tea

Rose of No Man’s Land is one of my favourite gritty teen novels. It's told in Trish’s cynical voice. She’s a fourteen-year-old loner who normally sets her sights pretty low, which is understandable considering her impoverished, dysfunctional family. Her project for the summer, however, is an ambitious one: she wants to find a friend.

Trish’s older sister, Kristy, is the go-getter in the family. Unlike Trish, Kristy wears girly clothes and is popular at school, where she is studying cosmetology. Her dream is to make it onto a reality TV program. Kristy concocts a whopping lie in order to get Trish a job at Ohmigod!, a trendy clothing store at the local shopping mall in small-town Massachusetts. Trish gets fired on her first day, but it is at the mall where Trish meets Rose, a girl one year older and a whole lot badder than she is.

Rose works in the food court of the mall. Trish is attracted to her daring, devilish attitude and disregard for authority, telling us, “I would like to be badass and free, you know, clambering around dumpsters, thieving and smoking and being a deliberate fire hazard like Rose, but it’s not so much my style.”

Rose leads Trish on a wild adventure that starts with a stolen cellphone, on through hitchhiking, double-crossing a drug dealer, drinking lots of Yikes (a vodka energy drink), doing crystal meth, causing havoc in restaurants and having sex for the first time.

“I just didn’t have my head too together after what Rose had done to me. My downstairs parts still felt pretty crazy from it, actually. Central, cracked open, transmitting and receiving. It was now the satellite dish of my body.”

Trish is a likeable heroine taking a crash course on the pleasures and pain of drugs and sex and growing up.

Note added March 14: Listen to Michelle Tea reading a great passage from the book at this website.


Claire G said...

It sounds like an amazing ride, and I like the way you've written about it. But how - if it doesn't give away the story - does Tea deal with the crystal meth (presumably methamphetamine - what we in NZ call 'P')? I mean, it's not like smoking a bit of weed.

Lindy said...

It won't give away the story, but I'll need to get the book out from the library again to quote that part, so be patient. Meanwhile, you can listen to Michelle Tea reading from a great passage in the book at the website link that I've added to my post.

Lindy said...

When Trish asks what the beautiful crystals of meth are made from ("Rocks?"), Rose tells her "battery acid, I think. Like from car batteries? That, and nasal spray." Rose crushes some and explains to Trish how to inhale it through a tube of rolled paper money. Trish: "It shot like a bullet through my nose and then clung, stinging, to the back of my throat. Oh My God, I gasped. My nose felt seared. I touched it and felt for blood, but it was dry."