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Sister Mischief Hardcover – July 12, 2011
2016 Book Awards
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- Laura Goode — Quote
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Esme and her BFFs Marcy, Tess, and Rowie make up Sister Mischief, the fiercest undiscovered all-girl hip-hop group in the area. When not working on rhymes and practicing, they hang out and bug the crap out of each other the way only best friends can. When the principal of their school in wealthy SWASP suburb Holyhill makes a rule against hip-hop at school because it "incites violence," the girls start 4H, a combination gay-straight alliance and club for discussing hip-hop and rap. Well, they try to. Principal Nordling won't give them approval unless they prove the club is worth something. Meanwhile, Esme is experiencing first love with another girl--and maybe first heartbreak.
Hip-hop and rap are not my favorite genres. Actually, they're two of my lest favorite genres, saved from the bottom spot only because I dislike heavy metal more (that is entirely too much noise for me to handle). The slang and the dated name-dropping was confusing at times, but I expected to love this book when I finally read it. Did I? Yes, I did. So much so that when these girls performed, I rapped the lyrics to myself.
Esme, Marcy, Tess, and Rowie are all trying to find and define themselves just like any teenager girl would, and their search for identity, along with the trials of growing up, is what this book is about. I can remember having the same struggles and even now, I'm still struggling with finding who I am. Readers will identify well with these girls even if the reader has nothing in common with them.
The cast is strikingly diverse in ethnicity and sexual orientation. The conflict of how difficult it can be to be different in a town that thinks different (such as not being straight or white) gets the spotlight for a while too.Read more ›
So in summation, this book encourages YA hookups with no emotional attachment and encourages you to stay in the closet no matter what. Mhm. Doesn't work for me.
It introduces Esme Rockett (aka MC Ferocious) and her crew of friends/collaborators: Marcy (DJ SheStorm), Tess (The ConTessa), and Rowie (MC Rohini). As a Jewish(ish?) lesbian, a heterosexual butch backslid Catholic, a rebel Lutheran teen queen, and a desi thrift store genius, these ladies don't exactly blend into the background of Holyhill -- a place pretty shamelessly defined by its SWASP (Straight White Anglo Saxon Protestant) majority. When their high school presents a code of conduct that bans anything related to hip-hop from the school premises, the girls take action and form a hip-hop discussion group slash gay-straight alliance. Needless to say, a book's worth of trouble and goodness ensues.
I expected Sister Mischief to alienate me a little bit because I don't listen to much hip-hop, but I'm happy to report that it's completely accessible to anyone who knows what it is to be young and in love with any music scene, whether as a performer or just a fan. The girls do occasionally come off a bit like music professors expounding on theses about the roles of race, gender, and sexuality in hip-hop. They are portrayed as a pretty nerdy crew, so perhaps this is justified, but it did give me a little ache for the youthful state of just loving that is part of what makes music such an intense experience for teenagers. In any case, the rhymes Ez and Rowie throw down are awesome and add something cool and authentic to the story, so that's a plus.
I was impressed with Goode's frank portrayal of teenage sexuality and casual drug use.Read more ›
I liked that the author acknowledged the potential for cultural appropriation with suburban, mostly white or white-passing teens expressing themselves through hip-hop, although I felt that she didn't engage with it as much as she should have. This is especially important given how often Black art is taken and recycled by white artists, without credit or attribution, and these white artists go on to far more success and fame than most Black artists can dream of.
I liked the organic, exploratory feel of the relationship between Esme and Rowie. I wasn't so keen on Esme trying out het sex in the opening pages - do het people need to try out gay sex to figure out that they're not into it? Let's just leave that trope behind in general, but especially so if we're going to be marketing this to queer teens.
Then I got to the last 20% or so.
Tip: don't describe something as a love story when it ends with the people in the romance splitting up. Don't tell us it's a queer love story when it ends with one of the characters bolting the closet door shut and running off to be in a het relationship we _know_ she won't be happy with. And, most of all, don't leave us that note to instead have it end with a horrible, hokey, cheesy The Kids Show The Principle Up By Taking Over His Big Speech With a Musical Performance straight out of a cliché, awkward 90s teen comedy.
I deeply regret buying this and getting so invested in the love story only to have it ending so awfully. The message queer teen girls need isn't "you should stay in the closet and be unhappy"; they need validation and a model for how to live honestly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a great book, and funny too! It was really well written and the plot was unique and well executed. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Amelia
As someone who has worked with teenagers for a long time, I was completely impressed with Goode's ability to capture the reality of teenaged lives and teen-speak! Read morePublished on November 29, 2011 by Andrea510
Beautifully written, Sister Mischief is a sophisticated take on young adult fiction. The story about Esme and her best girl friends is both touching and very relateable. Read morePublished on October 8, 2011 by Stylish