3 Stars - Recommended to fans of gritty, punky, edgy, LGBTQ lit
Publisher: Ladybox Books
Released: March 2015
Back in January, I helped fund Broken River Books' Year Two March Madness kickstarter. As a backer, I landed my choice of any three ebooks - future or past. Jigsaw Youth looked pretty rad, and it was being released through BRB's Ladybox imprint, so I jumped all over it.
Tiffany Scandal's sophmore novel is a gritty, punky little thing. If it had teeth, it'd be nibbling and gnawing at your fingers as you flipped the pages. It's a sweetly fierce collection of connected vigenettes that tell the semi-life story of Ella, a fledgling queer with a 'sperm donor dad' who has been-there-done-that and had it all done back to her, too.
The novel starts off with a bang, catching Ella knee-deep in a ratty relationship with this chick Hope. Hope is a hopeless cheater and Ella just keeps on taking her back until she absolutely can't take it anymore. I think we've all been in one of those relationships. You know the kind, where you know the person is no good for you, and no good to you, but you just can't ball up enough to walk away and you end up staying with them for much longer than is healthy.
"I was telling myself, Please don't do this. Just walk away. But I couldn't. I turned. Hope was a mess. Veiled with tears and snot. Looking like total defeat. Not like the monster I wanted her to be. I got her a tissue from the kitchen."Im sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that Hope appears here and there throughout the book and you get the feeling that our Ella never quite completely breaks free of whatever hold she had on her.
The next chapter details the night Ella was raped by a guy she thought of as a friend. And it's written as if Ella were writing it for him.
"I woke up to you fucking me. My sweats and underwear around my ankles. Your slender frame and tiny dick wriggling between my legs."She brings us along as she showers, once she kicks him out, and as she rages, and as she drags her stinking mattress to his girlfriend's house with a spray painted message for everyone to see.
And it is in this memoir-y way that Tiffany continues to stir and shock us, her readers, with the moments that shaped and scarred Ella... the time she dreamed of Henry Rollins. The day she learned of Kurt Cobain's suicide. The torment she felt when her boss forced her to serve her rapist a cup of coffee, and the elation of catching her boss jerking off into food in the diner's back room. The loss of her childhood best friend when she came out coupled with the overwhelming relief of her family's acceptance. The horrible dating advice her grandmother gave her and her fear of meeting her absentee father face to face for the first time. The lousy relationships she hid in and the nurturing ones she flourished in.
Tiffany Scandal is Lindsay Hunter's literary punk rock sister. Her language is raw and jagged. It is honest and unapologetic. She lays it all out there, in true take-it-or-leave-it fashion. And althought I haven't read her earlier novel, I get the feeling Tiffany is really only just coming into her own. You better watch out world. Scandal is going to be kicking ass and taking names, and I think it's best if you simply step aside and let her.