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Girl by Blake Nelson

As a part of this whole crisis I’m having where I’m going backward to go forward, I’m revisiting my favorite media, the ones that had the most impact on me. So I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite books of all time. I love re-reading books anyway, but Leena from Justkissmyfrog also said that re-reading a book and a writing style you’re intimately familiar with can be a good and unintimidating way to get back on the reading horse.

So the first book I re-read was Girl by Blake Nelson. It’s been my favorite book since I read it for the first time in the 8th grade. And I’ve probably re-read it about 10 times since.

It was honestly so nice to get back into Andrea’s voice and Blake Nelson’s unique style he used for this book. It’s very plain and stream of consciousness, and actually something I’ve tried to impart in my writing ever since I read it the first time.

It’s just crazy how well he captures these little relatable moments of insecurities. And it’s weird because I’d forgotten how sad and pathetic I felt in high school and even up until a few years ago until I re-read this and related with Andrea’s moments of infinite sadness.

Here are some passages from the book that I think are so simple and sweet, and maybe you can get a feel for how special this writing is:

“We drove. when we got downtown we cruised by Outer Limits and there were so many people outside on the street Rebecca had to slow down and wait for them to move. And these boys were guzzling a quart of beer and everyone was smoking cigarettes and acting really cool and tough. But then on the next block we saw Greg’s station wagon which made me feel better. We parked beside it. And I didn’t have any makeup on and Rebecca had a little mascara and she looked at herself in the rear-view mirror and asked me if we should put on lipstick and I said, “I guess we better.” So she put some on and I put some on and then some eye pencil. And she asked me if I ever smoked and I said I knew how and she said good and got some cigarettes from under the seat. And we got out and ran across the street and then we smoothed our dressed and turned the corner and walked into the crowd.”

“Then I turned seventeen. It was so depressing. I couldn’t even look at anyone. At school nobody cared because most of them had already turned. At home my mom made a cake and my dad was acting weird and trying to make eye contact. And all day I kept studying my face in the mirror and wondering if I would have jowls someday like Mrs. Schroeder. And everything old was bugging me like Lizzy Rosen’s grandpa who went on these pathetic walks to the corner that took him half the day, That Night I took my Coma tape and sat outside on the steps with Brad’s Walkman and listened to it all the way through twice. And I knew my parents were wondering what my problem was and then my dad came out and stood over me and asked me what I was doing. I said nothing. He asked me if I was sad about my birthday or if it was something else and I couldn’t answer and I couldn’t look at him. So he sat down and said it was hard being my age and no matter what happened he still still loved me. And my mom too. And after a while he gave me a hug but even then he was holding back because I was seventeen and my breasts were touching him.”

“Back to school, what a nightmare. And I was having the worst crisis of my life because I loved piling my hair up and nobody cared at Monte Carlo or Color Green shows, but at Hillside High School? It was a terrible decision because if I put it up there wouldn’t even be anyone to appreciate it and I would get teased and what was the point? And for the last week before school I had worn it up every day because it was so hot and now it felt weird to let it down. And also, as Carla had pointed out, my whole taste in clothes was heading toward a big hair look anyway and it was like the missing link and I looked like an idiot if I wore my fish dress and saddle shoes and then left my hair hanging off me like a dog. It got so bad that I even contemplated getting a bob just to end the agony but no one was getting bobs now and even Carla was growing hers out, And I was having a total panic so I called Cybil and she said I should shave my head and I was like, very funny, Cybil. Then I almost called Carla but she wasn’t in high school and I thought it would be too embarrassing to bother her with such suburban stupidness.”

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