I picked this book up only because the cover caught my attention. It is extremely relatable; if you have a teen who has embraced the punk culture and loves a good read this book is great. This review is also coming from someone who grew up in the punk scene with pink hair (that and every other color imaginable) and piercing and the clothes, so that is another reason I picked this book up. It was great and is an easy read; I finished it within 24 hours in two sittings.
Ahhhh... teenage angst. At 32, I really wish I had the same problems I had as a teenager - then again, no, I never want to be 15 again. Ick. No.
This was very well written. I felt for the characters and what they were going through. I thought it was a pretty honest depiction of the high school years - yes, even though I cringed thinking about my own kids being a teenager. Very off-beat, but a great read.
If you are offended by the F word, you'll not want to read this... it's heavy on the F words ;)
It's like beach reading for kids who grew up knowing the Misfits and Manic Panic. What attempts the book makes at any kind of deeper meaning seem shallow, but for the chance to feel 14 again it was definitely worth the read...though I was stuck in a 3 hour California traffic jam at the time. If this book were a band it'd be the Queers - if you're in the mood and not looking for poetry it does the trick quite nicely.
When I finished reading Joe Menos Hairstyles of the Damned, I had two thoughts. First was that this book belongs on my list of rock and roll fiction. The mix tapes, the way these characters connect to music and allow it to define their identity make this a slam-dunk to be included on the list.
My other thought wasnt quite so charitable. You see, I recently read The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington, and these two books were quite similar. The themes of young boys in puberty, beginning to navigate the mine field that is girls, alienation from the parents (or was that in Snow Angels?) Even Booklist, the venerated book review source, said, This is worthy if familiar stuff.
That sums it up, I think.
Except Hairstyles did something the other two I just mentioned failed to: evoke a strong sense of nostalgia. The afore-mentioned Snow Angels was even set near West of Mars. Youd think that would awaken some feelings.
Not like Hairstyles did. Even though Im a bit older than these characters, I still smiled at the haircut Brian quested after. I recognized the mosh pits of old. The lazy, languid afternoons, hanging out on the hood of a car. This was my life, to a degree. Not so much that I saw myself exactly, but enough that I was right there all over again. Those college years had been good to me. They were again as I read.
One thing Hairstyles had that Peter Paddington lacked that truly needs to be mentioned is the way in which we got to watch Brian change. He made progress in life. He lost some of his awkwardness, especially with the girls. Meno wasnt afraid to let this character grow and change and be someone else at the end of the book. As a result, at times, you cant help but root for Brian when things are going well. You cant help but groan when hes a lunkhead. But you dont give up on him; Brians a survivor. You can tell that early on.
I wish Id read this before Peter Paddington. Id have done nothing but rave about it. But like my experience with Cecil Castelluccis Beige, this one suffers from the shame of coming in second.