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The Torn Skirt

At Mt. Douglas (a.k.a. Mt. Drug) High, all the girls have feathered hair, and the sweet scent of Love's Baby Soft can't hide the musk of raw teenage anger, apathy, and desire. Sara Shaw is a girl full of fever and longing, a girl looking for something risky, something real. Her only possible salvation comes in the willowy form of the mysterious Justine, the outlaw girl in the torn skirt. The search for Justine will lead Sara on a daring odyssey into an underworld of hookers and johns, junkies and thieves, runaway girls and skater boys, and, ultimately, into a violent tragedy.
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When Sara's hippie father catches her masturbating after school, he can't handle what he's witnessed. In one of this whip-smart debut's many surreal scenes, he decides to move out effective immediately. Godfrey's novel is full of equally disconcerting episodes, but its brash honesty gives them a giddily delightful spin. The departure of 16-year-old Sara's single father leaves her to fend for herself, and she quickly heads down the wrong path in mid-'80s Victoria, British Columbia. An obsession with Justine, a strangely alluring street girl, leads her into the red-light district, where she meets China, a teenage prostitute who persuades Sara to help her rob a john. As the new friends flee the crime scene, the deceived man threatens Sara, vowing to get revenge. Sure enough, just as she finally finds Justine again, she is accosted by the man, and Justine nearly kills him with a knife belonging to Sara. Though the book is a hell-ride through the lives of burned-out teens killing time in homeless shelters and drug houses, the scenery is transformed by Godfrey's angry cleverness: one character is "like the rising rowdy moment of a party just before the cops arrive and send everyone home." Though secondary figures like Sara's father and China don't get the thorough treatment Godfrey gives Sara, Godfrey's singular voice is a perfect barometer of teenage rage and insecurity. (Oct. 15) Forecast: A great cover shot of a girl in a short skirt with a bruised knee gets exactly the right message across. This is a potential teen cult hit and should do particularly well on the West Coast, where Godfrey will tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Adult/High School-As a teen in the mid-'80s in British Columbia, Sara Shaw has two lives. At home, she is the responsible daughter who cleans, launders, and manages the bills for her feckless, addicted father. At school, aptly nicknamed "Mount Drug," she hangs out with a group of stoned delinquents. When her father suddenly abandons her, she leaves home for the back alleys of Victoria where she is swept into the world of runaways, pimps, prostitutes, and addicts. Despite the graphic sexual situations and language, this is a touching book about a sensitive, articulate teen who longs for security while recklessly courting danger. She misses her mother who still lives in the commune Sara and her father had left. She regrets not befriending a girl at her school, and tries to compensate by helping the young women she meets on the streets and in a shelter. She imagines life with the kind foster family she is offered, but can't make herself leave the streets and go to them. This first novel is suspenseful, surprisingly funny, and thought provoking. Godfrey's portrayal of the anguish and hope of troubled teens has a searing authenticity.-Kathy Tewell, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

In this gritty, bittersweet first novel, 16-year-old narrator Sara is a small pebble in the storm-tossed sea of her adolescence. Raised on a hippie commune, she is left to her own devices when her father quits for the woods to lead a simpler life (her mother stays behind at the commune). Shortly after his departure, the fever that enveloped Sara at birth returns with a vengeance, and she begins her search for refuge, beauty, and a level of honesty. Although she finds relative comfort with the "burnout boys," classmates who smoke marijuana in the fields behind the high school, she's not satisfied. Her curiosity propels her to venture into Victoria, British Columbia's enticing mid-1980s underworld, where she meets a group of colorful, worldly, and energetic adolescents in alleys, strange rooms, and diners. One of them is the torn skirt-wearing Justine, who mesmerizes Sara. Even though Justine slips in and out of Sara's periphery, Sara continues to look for her, thinking of her as an alter ego. As she resists boredom and conformity, Sara acquires self-confidence, a few rough edges, and her own distinctive voice. Godfrey's style is simple, believable, and pared to the bone. At a moderate price, this debut is highly recommended for medium-sized and larger public libraries.-Lisa Nussbaum, Dauphin Cty. P.L., Harrisburg, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"A dizzying mix of hope and despair." -- Oregonian "Required reading." -- New York Post Required reading. --New York Post A dizzying mix of hope and despair. --Oregonian "A dizzying mix of hope and despair."--Oregonian "Required reading."--New York Post Required reading. --New York Post" A dizzying mix of hope and despair. --Oregonian"

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