There’s a good reason “Read more books” is boldfaced and italicized at the top of my list of resolutions for 2011 – I am not, nor have I ever been, a bookish person. Instead, I let my brain rot while watching old episodes of The Ghost Whisperer (OK, I do it for the cleavage) and any show involving extremely obese people (I’m not giving those shows up, ever).
To begin my new love affair with the written word, I’m most curious and excited about Laura Goode’s debut novel, Sister Mischief. What makes this book, stand apart from the rest? It’s about a half-Jewish, white, lesbian, aspiring rapper from the Midwest. So basically, the story was ripped from my childhood. I kid, but not really. (I used to have “Hip-Hop” shaved into the back of my head.)
Like her author, the novel’s whip-smart protagonist, Esme, is a young writer coming into her own. The book witnesses the pain and confusion of her perennial outsider status—as a strapped-for-cash, half-Jewish, lesbian, white rapper in love with an Indian girl in a well-off, Caucasian Christian community. The book examines the questions of race, gender, and class that her dilemma raises with authenticity and wit. Goode shows that such problems are far from just ones of an individual; these are universal issues that need to be scrutinized by society as a whole. And what better way to confront them than through art—in this case music and literature?
The youth of today are so lucky to have books like this and shows like Skins, Degrassi: The Next Generation and basically half of the CW lineup. When I was a wee lez, I was stuck reading Sweet Valley High and trying to figure out which, if given the choice in real life, of the Wakefield twins I’d like to date. If you’re wondering, it was Jessica. (I have a thing for bitches).
In all seriousness, without having read the novel, I hope this book is able to open the doors of creativity for some of the budding wordsmiths and rhyme spitters out there. Goode seems to have constructed characters very good at showing how powerful words, both written and spoken, are. As Esme states, “The language hip-hop uses to describe women is really messed up, but don’t you think that if enough women rappers break through, it’s something that we can reclaim?” Putting her words into action, Esme and her friends put together a group at their high school called Hip-Hop for Heteros and Homos.
Now, I know what I just wrote about my resolutions, but I’m kind of hopeful this will end up being a series of novels that quickly get turned into a TV show on the ABC Family channel. If that happens, my resolution goes out the window, but at least it’s for the sake of the gays, right?