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Sister Safety Pin Paperback – October, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Firebrand Books (October 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563410508
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563410505
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,552,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Take a wry, reflective 17-year-old, add the Sex Pistols, Sisterhood Is Powerful and a generous handful of safety pins, and you'll have Sprecher's delightful portrait of the artist as a young, punk lesbian. Even before Melany's term paper is flunked (somehow "Eve: Lesbian-Feminist Extraordinaire" just doesn't cut it with her Milton professor), she's got problems. Having escaped from her family to a large, anonymous university, she finds herself at loose ends. In punk rock, she discovers music that mirrors her state of mind: "It sounded as discordant as I felt"; and at a local punk club, she meets Iso, a "real lesbian"-more precisely, she falls on top of her while drunkenly pogoing on a table. Melany soon discovers that punk and lesbian-feminism don't mix easily, and that Iso has her own agenda. As Melany travels through school, relationships and her maturing sense of self and purpose, Sprecher's first novel evokes the political and artistic climate of the times through both the lyrics of established bands and those written by Iso's sister, Janie. In Melany's ultimate integration of her seemingly disparate concerns, Sprecher convincingly demonstrates that punk and feminism indeed share some essential methods and goals. Melany's search for personal and political meaning and her growing sense of agency and responsibility offer a welcome contrast to the all-too-common destructive, nihilistic protagonists of many contemporary writers.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A down-to-earth love story with a feisty, punk-feminist, lesbian twist. It's the 1980s. Think Sex Pistols, safety pins, Doc Marten boots, and blue hair. Melany embraces punk, a sound as discordant as she feels--shocking, offensive, ``fuck-you music.'' At 17, longing to escape high school, Melany passes the California Proficiency Exam and enrolls in college as an English major. There she suffers through American Lit, wondering ``why these straight white guys who could afford to fuck their way through Europe were so angry,'' meets fellow punk, like-minded English major Patti, who becomes her best friend, and falls hard for a woman named Iso. At first, Melany feels conflicted about the sexual identity thing, worrying that she'll lose it in poetry class and let slip that she slept with a woman the night before when she means to comment on iambic pentameter. She also wonders how she could be a lesbian when ``women's music'' like that of Holly Near gives her a headache. Iso doesn't want the hassle, so she moves on to someone else, but in the meantime, the lesbian teacher in one of Melany's Women's Lit courses becomes a confidante and role model. She tries getting over Iso, but, arguments from Patti and Iso's own sister (a sweet 14-year-old punker with whom Melany bonds immediately) notwithstanding, she still finds herself heartbroken. When Patti comes out, despite a long discussion about why they should keep things platonic, Patti and Melany become lovers. The two maintain a long-distance relationship when Patti goes to grad school in New York and Melany goes to D.C., but, after four years, they decide to go back to being pals. Soon Iso arrives on the scene to break Melany's heart once more--only this time, the most unlikely person arrives to pick up the pieces. A unique voice and wry takes on feminism, sexuality, political correctness, and punk music make this startlingly sweet, albeit not too deep, debut a standout. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By jessie chouinard on January 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was recomended to me by a boy who used to come into my work everyday. Well, I'm glad I took his suggestion-because this a good read. It's not the most amazing book out there, but it is one of the few I reread every year. Melany is a 17 year old punk rock college girl on the verge of a lesbian, Feminist, grown-up track. In the begining, her wavering on-is she-or isn't she- a lesbian get a little tiring, but it stops right before you get really sick of it. Also the name dropping of Punk Rock bands is plentiful, but also doesn't quite go overboard (Plus it's nice to see bands I like mentioned in print). She falls in love (maybe?) with this girl,Iso, who she always seems to miss-connect with. During this termoil, she finds out just who she is and how she relates in this place. You don't have to be a punk rocker or a feminist or even a lesbian to enjoy this book. The core story is really good, and Melany has some realy cool thing happen to her (like working as a temp. for the government and puting her mark on confidential papers and having a cool friend, Patti, who leaves college in a really big F-You type of way). Anyway, just get this book. It's sensitive, well written and takes place in this world (time, place, music) that I kinda wish I could have been a party to.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
This one actually deserves 3.5 stars, but the rating system likes even numbers. I enjoyed this novel about a punk rock girl coming to grips w/ her lesbian identity. It's a good quick read w/ a slamming soundtrack consisting of bands like the Clash, the Pretenders, and X-Ray Spex. On the downside, at times Sprecher seems to try too hard to make the story accessible to non-punks, and I think this sometimes hurts the book more than helps it. True punk rock attitude wouldn't care if you don't get all the references, so why does Sprecher? The love story angles are a little better than the political notes that sometimes get a bit tedious, and it has a sweet, if predictable, resolution. I think people in general can relate to the twisted need to give a relationship that just won't die a second chance. Get out your vinyl punk records, spike up your hair, shut yourself in your room w/ the lights low, and spend the afternoon reading this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By chachasama on May 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
when I had first read a review on this book, I was instantly intrigued. After recieving it as a birthday gift, I devoured it in a mere day. All I can say is that it's incredible. You feel for the characters so much that you cry when they cry, smile when they smile. You feel their pain, and that's what makes this novel worth it.
The characters are easy to relate with(that is, if you're suffering from teenage angst, sexual/gender identity crisis, and dealing with clumps of distortion). But really. This book is very enjoyable. I suggest all who have been through that search for your true identity buy a copy. It's well worth it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rachael on May 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Sister Saftey Pin was the first "lesbian novel" that I ever read. Reading this right after I came out to my mom as bisexual, it was the first thing that gave me comfort in my new identity. Even though Melanie was a lesbian I still felt that I had a strong connection with her throughout the entire book. I highly recommend this book to any bi or lesbian girl.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "coralynn" on March 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I first read this book when my friend suggested it to me. After I read a few pages, I got really into it and couldn't really put it down. It was very realistic, dealing with problems that are likely to happen. There's funny times, and sad times. There's a realization of oneself and deciding on where to go from there. This book gets you thinking on what will happen. I like that Melany has pride in herself.
I think this book is good to read for everyone with an open mind. It deals with relationships, friends, work, school, politics (somewhat), and just trying to make a living while still being who you are.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you hate the 80s or lesbians or punk, why would you read it? Because this is a funny and honest story of some rowdy college grrrls and their quest for community and maturity.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I read this book, I wished like crazy that I had known about it when I first came out. Although I am not a punk rocker like Melany, I never really fit into the "lesbian community" either. It is an unfortunate fact of life that no matter how alternative our lifestyles are, conformity is still highly valued and enforced. As far as the GLB community has come in the past ten years, we have still not learned that truly being open and affirming means welcoming *everyone*, even if they look different from you, think different from you, came out at a different age from you, or are more/less "out" than you. Clique-ishness is still the bane of many highly oppressed communities and ours is no different.
*Sister Safety Pin* is, therefore, a great comfort to me! I read it whenever I become convinced that I too am "too weird" to have love and caring in my life. My heartfelt thanks to Lorrie Sprecher for writing it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Sprecher's "Sister Safety Pin" is a frighteningly accurate depiction of what it is to grow up a freak in any way--punk, queer, female--and triumph over the miscellaneous conservatism, judgementalism, and other unwanted social detritus thrown our way. Adult readers of Francesca Lia Block's "Weetzie Bat" books will certainly be enthralled.
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More About the Author

Lorrie Sprecher is the author of Pissing in a River, Sister Safety Pin and Anxiety Attack. She was a member of ACT UP/DC, has a PhD in English and American literature, and resides with her dog Kurt in Syracuse, New York. The punk song "It's a Heteronormative World, No!" recorded by her band Sugar Rat appears on a compilation put out by Riot Grrrl Berlin.

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