Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Classic Covers: Girl

This is the edition of Blake Nelson's Girl that I purchased in 1997, the cover I stared at, willing my hair to get that long, the one I still pull down from my shelf and reread.

I first heard about Girl from Sassy magazine, which was excerpting the novel before it was even published.  I didn't realize a full-length novel had come out until I read a review in my friends’ ‘zine a few years later.

I was a Sophomore and they were juniors when they created that ‘zine, which was a very well written and beautifully designed collection of essays, reviews, and musings from two girls who I thought were the coolest ever.  Over the course of that school year they made me mix tapes, loaned me books (Weetzie Bat!), and generally helped me to become a cooler person.  And by "cooler," I mean a person who pursues her interests without worrying what other people think.  In the spring of that school year, we declared one Thursday to be Magical Fairy Princess day, and the three of us dressed up in our most sparkly outfits and fluttered around the school, waving wands and granting wishes.

But before all that, in the reviews section of their ‘zine, I read that the novel Girl had been rapidly circulating among all their friends, and “only a single frown did it prompt.”  Years, and many rereadings later, I still wonder who that friend was and what in this wonderful book could have possibly prompted that frown.

Girl is the story of Andrea Marr and her journey from Sophomore to Senior year of high school and through the alternative scene in Portland, OR.  Andrea lived the kind of life that I wished I was living: going to see cool music with her cool friends and dating lots and lots of boys.  Reading Girl, I vicariously lived Andrea’s life, which was much more exciting than mine.

Of course, in real life I didn’t want to be just dating and sleeping with guys.  I admired girls who did that, but I was a romantic who longed to meet the boy I would fall in love with.  I was often disappointed when the boys I had crushes on didn't live up to my masculine ideal.  Which is why I often did not speak to the boys I had crushes on.  Better to read about Andrea's dating adventures rather than risk disappointment in my own.

The music scene was also much scarier in real life.  At shows with my punk friends, I always felt that I wasn't dressed right, wasn't cool enough and didn't belong.  (I found out later that even my coolest friends felt the same way.)  Attending imaginary alternative shows in Portland with Andrea Marr was much more fun.  

Reading Girl let me feel like a brave bold girl, the kind of girl who goes to shows and dates a thousand boys and doesn’t lose herself in the process.  And since I wasn't spending my time dating boys I didn't really like and going to shows where I wasn't happy, I had all the time in the world to dress up like a fairy and pretend to grant wishes.

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