Rose of No Man’s Land by Michelle Tea
Mogsfield, Massachusetts is a nowhere town, a backwater with little to offer. There’s the high school and the vocational school and strip malls as far as the eye can see. Trisha Driscoll is a 14-year-old loner with a hypochondriac Mom who lazes on the couch all day and lets Trish drink beer, a disgusting-excuse-for-a-man step-Dad-type who eats ramen like it was potato chips, and a popularity-hound sister, Kristy, whose big dream involves getting onto MTV’s Real World. Here is how the film “Pretty in Pink” would run-down in Trish’s town:
“If Molly Ringwald had been going through that drama in Mogsfield she would’ve ended up with her ass kicked at some horrid teen dance club on Route 1, Ducky would’ve been fagbashed, she would’ve never found that cool women who gave her the dress, and her father would have been a more serious loser, like a molester. Molly wouldn’t have made it to the dumb prom at all—she’d have gone out with some other fuckups, gotten a little too wasted, had sex with someone regrettable, and wound up pregnant.”
Trish’s life picks up when she meets the reckless, enigmatic Rose at the mall. They go on a drugged out adventure together, through which Trish learns that she just might be a lesbian.
I had high hopes for Tea’s novel, but all in all found it a little disappointing. There’s some great stuff here, but I didn’t entirely buy the voice—Trish didn’t sound like a teen a lot of the time. Even though she’s growing up fast and cynical, and Mogsfield is a little behind, I felt that the references were being made by the 30-something author, that the cultural touchpoints and knowing air were not quite fitting. I’m holding out hope that Tea will follow this up with something a little different.