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Grrrls on the Side

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Author: Carrie Pack

Published: June 8th 2017 by Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press

Format: Paperback , 230 pages

Isbn: 9781945053214

Language: English


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The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up. At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a pl The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up. At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a place to belong. But just as Tabitha is settling in with her new friends and beginning to think she understands herself, eighteen-year-old Jackie Hardwick walks into a meeting and changes her world forever. The out-and-proud Jackie is unlike anyone Tabitha has ever known. As her feelings for Jackie grow, Tabitha begins to learn more about herself and the racial injustices of the punk scene, but to be with Jackie, she must also come to grips with her own privilege and stand up for what’s right.

30 review for Grrrls on the Side

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Pack

    Author's Note - including trigger warnings Riot Grrrl was a moment in time that represented what being young and female meant within the greater context of our society. It also helped a lot of us to understand what was possible. Many young women knew that even though significant strides had been made for gender and racial equality, the world was far from equal. In the early 1990s, a group of socially aware young women created (some would argue that they stumbled upon) a feminist movement they d Author's Note - including trigger warnings Riot Grrrl was a moment in time that represented what being young and female meant within the greater context of our society. It also helped a lot of us to understand what was possible. Many young women knew that even though significant strides had been made for gender and racial equality, the world was far from equal. In the early 1990s, a group of socially aware young women created (some would argue that they stumbled upon) a feminist movement they dubbed Riot Grrrl. When I starting writing Grrrls on the Side more than a year ago, the world was a different place for women. As we approached the 2016 election, it seemed we were on the cusp of having our first female president. Progress had been made. Our voices were being heard. I had nostalgia for Riot Grrrl. The moment felt ripe for a book that reflected on how far we’ve come as feminists and the role that young women and girls have played in that journey. Now, I believe, this book may have a different purpose. I sincerely hope Grrrls serves as a reminder of the power that women carry within ourselves, of the joy, kindness and ferocity we bring to everything we do, and of the hope that it can and will get better because we have each other. With the historic Women’s March on Washington in January 2017, I once again saw the power of women and girls to influence change on a grand scale. We still have a long way to go, but there are always other women out there, fighting the good fight, who will stand up and have your back, who will call you out on your crap, and who will remind you that you are not alone. So thank you so much for giving Grrrls on the Side a chance. Tabitha’s story represents a journey that a lot of young women take on their path to finding their place in the world, and I believe that is an important message for young adults. Unfortunately, for one in six American women, that journey is often derailed by sexual assault. So it would be impossible to talk about feminism and Riot Grrrl without addressing that very real and important issue. While there are no specific depictions of rape in my novel, there is discussion of the rape of an underage girl. There is also one scene where a character experiences unwanted kissing and touching. If you think this might be harmful or triggering to you, please feel free to give this book a pass. Or if you’d like to know what page numbers to skip or want to contact me for more details, please visit my website at www.carriepack.com.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Weezie

    Lord Jesus, give me strength to sort my feelings for this clusterfuck. Review: https://weezieswhimsicalwritings.word... Lord Jesus, give me strength to sort my feelings for this clusterfuck. Review: https://weezieswhimsicalwritings.word...

  3. 5 out of 5

    C.B. Lee

    90's kids aren't the only ones who'll appreciate this deftly crafted and fun, vivacious read. Tabitha is immediately likable and readers will identify with her struggles with her classmates and their insensitive comments and fat-shaming. Tabby's blossoming friendship with the Riot Grrrls and finding herself with new friends and cause is a delight to read, as is her learning about her own bisexuality and expressing it. The embedded zines are a lovely addition, as is the poetry and reading Tabby a 90's kids aren't the only ones who'll appreciate this deftly crafted and fun, vivacious read. Tabitha is immediately likable and readers will identify with her struggles with her classmates and their insensitive comments and fat-shaming. Tabby's blossoming friendship with the Riot Grrrls and finding herself with new friends and cause is a delight to read, as is her learning about her own bisexuality and expressing it. The embedded zines are a lovely addition, as is the poetry and reading Tabby and her friend's riot of self-expression. Pack also discusses Tabby's white privilege and looks at the complex layers of racism within the punk scene, and Tabby's relationship with Jackie, a fellow Riot Grrrl, is not only a sweet romance, but also a look into unlearning assumptions. Grrrls on the Side features a wonderful diverse cast of characters who are flawed and complex and call each other out on racist and misogynistic behaviors. Tabby's relationships with male and female characters and her affirmation of her bisexuality is refreshing to see on the page, and absolutely important for readers to see. A lovely novel of coming-of-age in the 90's in the zine movement with fantastic characters. Readers looking for F/F with happy endings and punks at heart will appreciate Grrrls on the Side.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dahlia

    Did not expect both fat rep and taking white feminism to task would be such huge parts of this book, but I am certainly not mad about it! I'd also expected music to be more central to it, but the 90s cultural aspect actually comes most strongly from zines, which I found surprisingly enjoyable to read considering they weren't something I was into in the actual 90s. Very curious how modern teens will feel about this book, since I think this really does feel like historical fiction, however modern Did not expect both fat rep and taking white feminism to task would be such huge parts of this book, but I am certainly not mad about it! I'd also expected music to be more central to it, but the 90s cultural aspect actually comes most strongly from zines, which I found surprisingly enjoyable to read considering they weren't something I was into in the actual 90s. Very curious how modern teens will feel about this book, since I think this really does feel like historical fiction, however modern that history may be. (I mean that in a good way - it never feels like this book was set in the 90s to capture the author's childhood or obliterate technology or anything like that, but to really capture the essence of a specific era and what it means for certain girls finding their voices.) Overall, I feel like it's a really good discussion book, and I'll definitely be on the lookout for thoughts from readers who are fat, queer, and/or Black girls.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Xan West

    A copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review I wanted to read this book because it's an f/f YA romance centering a fat girl, and I am always interested in finding more fat positive queer representation. I'm glad Tabitha never diets; there is no weight loss arc here. She has a bunch of self loathing and low self esteem around being fat, and is bullied for being fat; I know these things will likely resonate with other fat readers. They resonated for me, fe A copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review I wanted to read this book because it's an f/f YA romance centering a fat girl, and I am always interested in finding more fat positive queer representation. I'm glad Tabitha never diets; there is no weight loss arc here. She has a bunch of self loathing and low self esteem around being fat, and is bullied for being fat; I know these things will likely resonate with other fat readers. They resonated for me, felt painfully accurate. Tabitha has an arc around self acceptance and anger about fat oppression. She grows a bit in this regard, thanks to a combination of feminism and the love of a good woman. I didn't particularly care for the finding self acceptance through the love interest part, and was glad it was balanced by her finding a bit of a politic around her fat identity. If you want to read a YA book about becoming politicized around fat identity, this may be an option. It's not exactly a fat positive depiction, more of a fat accepting one. I thought the additions from the zines were a lovely idea that fell down a bit in execution. I have seen some really awesome writing and politics in zines, and was disappointed that these excerpts were missing that level of quality. Teenagers can be brilliant thinkers and writers, and these excerpts did not reflect that. There were amazing queer fat activist zines at the time this book was set; I really wished that Tabitha could have found those, and through them, found fat activism. (For folks looking for real examples of Riot Grrl zines, I suggest checking out the anthology The Riot Grrrl Collection, edited by Lisa Darms.) This book had some core problems of structure and plotting; it sort of meandered along and didn't seem to know where it was going. It did not feel like YA, which usually has strengths of tight plotting and/or strong voice and characterization. This lacked both. It did not hold up as a romance for me either, didn't follow a clear romantic arc or have a satisfying happy ending. These problems made it difficult to finish; I did not care about the characters, wasn't driven forward by the plot, I didn't particularly want to spend time hanging out with these people because they weren't that compelling. I wasn't rooting for the love interests to be together; I actually thought they were really badly matched and hoped that they would not stay together. Between Tabitha's denial that racism exists and denial and avoidance in general, her not really getting that Jackie was homeless/precariously housed and what that meant, and her issues around Jackie's butchness, and Jackie's rather intense hatred of Tabitha's bisexuality and tendency to bottle things up and then blurt them out, it seemed clear that they would just keep hurting each other over and over. I had some other core difficulties with this book. It's a bit difficult to tease out a central narrative from the story because the plotting is so muddled, but in my read, one of the central arcs in the story was about racial conflict within this particular Riot Grrrrl group, and the ways that conflict was inevitably part of Tabitha and Jackie's relationship. On it's face, that's not necessarily an issue. The way it played out in the story was where the problems exist. It centered on Tabitha, a white girl, learning that racism exists and is not ok, and that she needed to stop trying to ignore that reality. In the process of her learning to accept this reality, the Black women in the group get hurt again and again by the blatant racism of the white women, and Tabitha hurts Jackie repeatedly. This revelation for Tabitha comes at the end of the book (via a conversation with a white woman), and we don't really get to see what she is going to do about it. I personally did not believe that she was going to do much. This sets up the characters of color in the story (especially Jackie) to serve the learning of the white MC, which is a deeply problematic choice. Depicting this kind of racism without challenge for almost the entirety of the book is harmful. It's also just...a really disappointingly simple arc about racism. It centers white learning and white characters. That learning is very basic (racism is real). She never has to really take action about it. We are at a time in YA when folks are publishing such complex nuanced interesting books about racism; this doesn't even come close to those. Another core issue I had with this book was the way it grappled with oppression and violence. We see characters get bullied, get sexually assaulted, get queer bashed, get threatened, we see deeply harmful responses to violence, we see fat hatred, queer hatred, racism, misogyny, butch hatred, and bisexual hatred. And almost none of it gets challenged textually or by other characters. The story is so intensely weighed down by all these really harmful things that are just everywhere throughout the text, unchallenged. It made the book a very difficult read. Especially since I think that the Riot Grrrl feminism depicted in the book was supposed to be a challenge to them...and it just wasn't. It was not a feminism that even really understood these issues, much less grappled with them effectively. It was a deeply white feminism that had no tools to deal with core issues of misogyny, much less any other forms of oppression. I don't think that this is an accurate depiction of Riot Grrrl feminism, and it definitely was not a balance, challenge, or balm for the oppression depicted in this book. As a survivor of sexual assault, I was quite disappointed in the depiction of sexual assault in the story. It felt like it was thrown in there carelessly. In particular the arc around Tabitha's experience felt deeply insulting and disrespectful toward survivors both now and particularly teen survivors assaulted during the timeframe of the book. (view spoiler)[ The idea that a school would act so swiftly and thoroughly to protect a student who had been horribly bullied with no action whatsoever up until that point felt laughably inaccurate and handwavy. That her whole arc with Kate around this would include that kind of apology and forgiveness was deeply insulting. (hide spoiler)] Trigger Warnings: (view spoiler)[ Detailed description of sexual assault of a minor by an adult, detailed description of sexual assault in the context of queer hatred, minimization and dismissal of sexual assault by a romantic partner. Bullying described in detail, especially fat hating bullying. Many instances of oppression described in detail that go unchallenged including: heterosexism, queer hatred, bisexual hatred, fat hatred, butch hatred, racism, misogyny. Age gap relationship between 18 yo & 16 yo. Parent with depression. Neglectful parent. (hide spoiler)]

  6. 4 out of 5

    ☙ nemo ❧

    based on the premise of an f/f relationship in the nineties and riot grrrl punk band, i thought i was going to really enjoy this book. but, it only took the very first line for me to realise that our relationship might be less than harmonious: "Heather's got her stupid flannel shirt tied around her stupid, tiny waist. I don't know if I'm more annoyed she looks cuter like that than I do or if it's because I know she's only wearing it as a fashion statement." followed a few sentences later by, "Th based on the premise of an f/f relationship in the nineties and riot grrrl punk band, i thought i was going to really enjoy this book. but, it only took the very first line for me to realise that our relationship might be less than harmonious: "Heather's got her stupid flannel shirt tied around her stupid, tiny waist. I don't know if I'm more annoyed she looks cuter like that than I do or if it's because I know she's only wearing it as a fashion statement." followed a few sentences later by, "They only care about that stuff so they can meet boys and go shopping." a less than... promising start to a self-declared feminist novel. however, there were some really good feminist messages in here despite a bit of wobbliness. unfortu nately, i felt that the message dominated everything else. i'm a feminist, and i'm a very political person, and i like having political messages in books. but the message should not be the driving force of the novel, which seemed like it here. the plot was shaped around the message and seemed almost to take a backseat; there was nothing that really gripped me about the plot, or the characters, who seemed rather flat and just like mouthpieces for various opinions. there was definitely potential, but i don't think the plot and characters were rounded enough for that potential to be carried out. i don't have any feminist novels i would recommend in its stead, so if you do then drop me a comment because i'd like to read one!

  7. 5 out of 5

    haani

    I think this is a great book and i would recommend to anyone i know. This book represented women and what it feels like living in 90s and being a women. Especially, if you are a woman, fat and bisexual. People always assume that they can charge your label. Being a bisexual but had only dating girls must be getting a lot of "You date a girl. You're lesbian." this book discussed about this too. I kinda hate it when the first few chapters were only show white feminism, but then it got better when 3 I think this is a great book and i would recommend to anyone i know. This book represented women and what it feels like living in 90s and being a women. Especially, if you are a woman, fat and bisexual. People always assume that they can charge your label. Being a bisexual but had only dating girls must be getting a lot of "You date a girl. You're lesbian." this book discussed about this too. I kinda hate it when the first few chapters were only show white feminism, but then it got better when 3 badass black girls came in and educate them (Rior Grrrls). I wish there were more intersectional feminism covered but this book still good though. This book also have this zine and really cool picture of that said zine. And also music, because they're badass that way and Shut Up. Have i talk about how this book has cute f/f couples? THANKS FOR NETGALLEY FOR PROVIDING ME WITH THIS ARC IN EXCHANGE OF A HONEST REVIEW

  8. 4 out of 5

    Liana

    Review: https://forloversofbooks.wordpress.co... I was a little hesitant going into this book. While I was certain I’d find the sapphic romance and the punk setting enjoyable, I was afraid it would once again be a book whose feminism only concerns and centers on white, thin, middle class women. I couldn’t have fallen further from the truth. Not only was our protagonist fat, not only was the romance interracial, white privilege was called out on multiple occassions, establishing this book as one f Review: https://forloversofbooks.wordpress.co... I was a little hesitant going into this book. While I was certain I’d find the sapphic romance and the punk setting enjoyable, I was afraid it would once again be a book whose feminism only concerns and centers on white, thin, middle class women. I couldn’t have fallen further from the truth. Not only was our protagonist fat, not only was the romance interracial, white privilege was called out on multiple occassions, establishing this book as one far better than I expected and one I believe everyone should read. Our story begins when 16-year-old Tabitha attends a punk concert with her friend, Mike. There, she picks up a zine and ends up going to a Riot Grrrl meet-up. There she meets Jackie, a black lesbian, who changes Tabitha’s world forever. She is not just her first love. She becomes a person that makes her question her life, her privilege, everything she thought she knew about the punk-rock scene. And as their relationship develops, so does the group that’s been formed within the club, and the girls find themselves in situations they never thought of. Tabitha was a delight to read about. She is shy, she is quiet, with a very strong moral compass, a girl who discovers her identity and learns to stand up for herself. She is also one of the very few protagonists that proudly calls herself bisexual, and I can not stress this enough: honest and authentic representation is so good and so beneficial for everyone involved. This is also an #ownvoices book, since the author is bisexual herself, which is why the rep in this book felt so authentic and was so well-written. Even though I absolutely loved Tabitha I have to admit that my favourite characters were Jackie and Cherie. Jackie isn’t just a lesbian. She is a butch lesbian!!! In literature!! I was so ecstatic to see this represented in a YA book. The fact that she and Venus kept calling out the other girls on their privilege and challenge their perceptions of black people was something I did not expect to see; alas, I stand corrected. Carrie Pack gave me everything that I could have wished for and then some. In my opinion, if the book had some trans characters as well, it would have been the most inclusive, one of the most diverse books I’ve ever read. Now, back to Cherie: I loved her. I loved how she was such a great friend, always kind and polite, the voice of reason within the group. She was someone I could see myself being friends with in real life and she really added a lot to the book for me. The punk-rock setting was epic. I adore punk music and I adore the 90s (musically speaking). And seeing a girl-group rocking the punk scene and using their lyrics and their musical presence to get their points across and try to “educate” people was something I never thought I’d see in a book. As you can probably tell, this book has surprised me many, many times and in many different ways. The biggest surprise, however, was the romance. The bisexual character was not oversexualized!!!! The black woman was neither oversexualized nor desexualized!! These are such rarities in the YA world, I couldn’t believe I got to see both in the same book. Thank you, Carrie Pack! I think it’s safe to say that it was a great start to my #PrideMonthReadathon and one that set the bar extremely high. I also need to add that the zines the girls make are included in the book and they are so cute, and such a fun addition to an already great book. **An ARC was provided via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review**

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zahraa

    I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Therefore, I thank the publisher for a chance to read this incredible novel. trigger warning for sexual assault. Grrrls on the Side takes place during the Riot Grrrl movement of the early to mid-’90s. Our story begins when 16-year-old Tabitha attends a punk concert with her friend, Mike. There, she picks up a zine and ends up going to a Riot Grrrl meet-up. Through this she meets Jackie, a black butch lesbian, who changes Tabitha I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Therefore, I thank the publisher for a chance to read this incredible novel. trigger warning for sexual assault. Grrrls on the Side takes place during the Riot Grrrl movement of the early to mid-’90s. Our story begins when 16-year-old Tabitha attends a punk concert with her friend, Mike. There, she picks up a zine and ends up going to a Riot Grrrl meet-up. Through this she meets Jackie, a black butch lesbian, who changes Tabitha’s world forever. She becomes a person that makes her question her life, her privilege, everything she thought she knew about the punk-rock scene. And as their relationship develops, so does the group that’s been formed within the club. Tabitha is shy, quiet, with a very strong moral compass, a girl who discovers her identity and learns to stand up for herself- who proudly calls herself a bisexual. This is also an #ownvoices novel, the author herself is a bisexual. The romance was just beautiful! I loved it. The bi character wasn't oversexualized!! Even the black lesbian wasn't oversexualized. It's just rare to find this in YA. SO, reasons you gotta read this: girl punk rock band. best female friendships. feminist ass ladies! best fat girl rep I've ever seen (she never complained that she was too fat, and didn't fit in, even when she was bullied in school). on point bi rep! zines set in the '90s. Really, this book was just awesome, and I'm happy that Carrie Pack has written this kind of novel, really, you never find this kind of stuff in YA. I urge you all to pick this novel up.please read this, trust me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maggie [storme reads a lot]

    Thank you to the author for a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I love this book a lot because it deals with so many important issues. I was drawn into the voice of Tabitha right away and sped through the whole book. There's a vast amount of great rep in the book... bi rep... weight rep... there's even rep about how feminism can become white feminism and the dangers of excluding women of color from the conversation. As a person of color... I consider myself non binary so I say person... Thank you to the author for a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I love this book a lot because it deals with so many important issues. I was drawn into the voice of Tabitha right away and sped through the whole book. There's a vast amount of great rep in the book... bi rep... weight rep... there's even rep about how feminism can become white feminism and the dangers of excluding women of color from the conversation. As a person of color... I consider myself non binary so I say person... it makes me very happy as a feminist as well to see the acknowledgement sometimes white feminism can get in the way of feminism meant for everyone... aka intersectional feminism, which is meant for everyone. Tabitha becomes involved with the Riot Grrrls, a feminist group and she even starts her own zine... which is like a magazine she makes herself and contains social commentary about the world around her. She thinks she has a crush on this guy named Mike... but then she meets Kate and she realizes she is bi. Tabitha also becomes more involved with the Riot Grrrls, becoming friends with the group of young women. She even helps out planning meetings and when her friends start a band. Tabitha is amazing because she is a teenager trying to figure out who she is... and I can relate to her as an adult because I remember the confusing teenager years. What is even better is I can also relate as an adult because I didn't discover feminism and its importance to me until I was 24. So it's awesome to see her grow and change, becoming shaped by feminism because I'm living the same journey daily. I adore the conversation about how feminism needs to include everyone as well... because at times, feminism can feel not so inclusive... which should never happen. All voices in feminism need to be heard... not just the white ones or a certain group of women. All women, no matter skin color or sexual orientation or lifestyle. So I deeply appreciate Carrie Pack talking about this topic because all of the issues brought up in her book need to be seen more often in YA. This book is set in the 90s as well so it made me super nostalgic for a time I didn't get to live in because I was so young. This is an awesome book, and I would highly recommend it to everyone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    bookgeek607

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I entered this book jumping a little out of my normal reading choices. And well I was shocked at what I fell into when I first started reading it. The story is based back in 1994 Following Tabitha on a path of learning about feminism, self discovery, growing into oneself, and growing out of things and people around you. I think one thing that pulled me in was that Tabitha was fat and things she was told about her by class mates and others were similar to things I heard in school, and that was me I entered this book jumping a little out of my normal reading choices. And well I was shocked at what I fell into when I first started reading it. The story is based back in 1994 Following Tabitha on a path of learning about feminism, self discovery, growing into oneself, and growing out of things and people around you. I think one thing that pulled me in was that Tabitha was fat and things she was told about her by class mates and others were similar to things I heard in school, and that was me weighing around 130 lbs and being a size 10 jeans. I happened to enter middle school in 1994 and I was actually ahead of the girls in my class and needed a bra way before most of them and it was commented on frequently. I also grew up in a very white town very few minorities went to school with us growing up. This story throws back to a time of zines and when things were starting to change for us girls as they always do. Makes me sad to realize that these are the same issue girls are still fighting today. I'm so all over the place because well so many things stand out. It has gay/bi issues, sexual abuse issues, bullying, interracial issues, coping issues, self esteem issues, coming of age issues, relationships and more I'm sure I'm missing that I really hope younger girls pick this up and maybe learn they aren't alone. Woman should build each other up and not tear each other down.

  12. 5 out of 5

    CR Daylex

    Mehh. I'm so conflicted about this one. I'm a brit so even though I'm old I don't remember this punk movement per say, but I still thought this one captured the "essence of the era" in the sense that it resonated with me about the types of feminist conversations that were happening in the early 1990s. But then I'm not sure if some of the problematic aspects of the book (specifically fat shaming and racism) were sufficiently discussed? But maybe they can't be because its a historical? I don't thi Mehh. I'm so conflicted about this one. I'm a brit so even though I'm old I don't remember this punk movement per say, but I still thought this one captured the "essence of the era" in the sense that it resonated with me about the types of feminist conversations that were happening in the early 1990s. But then I'm not sure if some of the problematic aspects of the book (specifically fat shaming and racism) were sufficiently discussed? But maybe they can't be because its a historical? I don't think we can retroactively apply modern standards to historical periods, but then the author is writing in modern times? Anyway. I enjoyed the story but I'm thinking about these issues a lot.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura (bbliophile)

    Feeling very conflicted about this. Review to come.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jane (It'sJaneLindsey)

    I can't assign a star rating just yet. Some of this was great, some was not...overall I did find this underwhelming.

  15. 5 out of 5

    F.T. Lukens

    Review to come. But great book with 90s nostalgia and on the page bi-rep.

  16. 5 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    This was overall fine, but not great? I was pretty interested in the 90s riot grrrl culture with the zines and punk music (I'm just slightly too young to have experienced it first hand) but I'm not really sure how much this would appeal to teens today who didn't already know about it. I wish the author had done more descriptions of the music, what it sounded like, and how it made the girls feel. I guess I love the idea of a YA novel being set in this time but Pack didn't have the best execution- This was overall fine, but not great? I was pretty interested in the 90s riot grrrl culture with the zines and punk music (I'm just slightly too young to have experienced it first hand) but I'm not really sure how much this would appeal to teens today who didn't already know about it. I wish the author had done more descriptions of the music, what it sounded like, and how it made the girls feel. I guess I love the idea of a YA novel being set in this time but Pack didn't have the best execution--I didn't really feel immersed in the time period. Although some parts of the zines were really great--the band lyrics were adorable! As far as the plot and characters go, I didn't feel really invested. The story seemed to happen really fast without careful development of the characters and their relationships. I kept thinking things like "She has a crush on Mike? When did that happen?", "What, Tabitha has a crush on Kate now? When did that happen?", then "What, they're a couple already?" "What, they broke up already?" "What, now she likes Jackie?" It just felt like the author was throwing plot developments about Tabitha and her relationships at us but didn't take the time to actually develop the characters and their relationships. Her whole coming out as bi felt super rushed too, and the throwaway moment of her mom finding out was really downplayed in a way that just didn't feel believable to me. Like, her mom finding out she was bi was a non-event! My biggest problem: it feels like the only purpose of the black characters is to criticize the whiteness of riot grrrl... which is a very necessary and historically accurate critique but it is really demeaning to have three black girl characters in the novel whose only defining feature is blackness and who are only there to serve the narrative of the white girl. [Although to be fair I don't think Pack did a good job fleshing out the other white characters either (riot grrrls Marty and Kate were fairly one-note characters as well)]. Another point related to race that seemed weird to me was that Pack used the black characters to point out the racism of riot grrrl but not Cherie, who's Asian (did it specify what exactly her heritage was? I can't remember--if the book did, it was a throwaway moment too).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    I received an arc from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review dnf @ 30% I didn't want to dnf this book but there's so much fatphobia and homophobia on this I was struggling to read it. Specifically the homophobia was making me feel physically sick. There didn't seem to be much to the book but Tabitha sometimes going to the punk feminist meeting, kissing her girlfriend, and mostly getting abused at her school. And her love interest didn't think it was a big deal when her ex a I received an arc from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review dnf @ 30% I didn't want to dnf this book but there's so much fatphobia and homophobia on this I was struggling to read it. Specifically the homophobia was making me feel physically sick. There didn't seem to be much to the book but Tabitha sometimes going to the punk feminist meeting, kissing her girlfriend, and mostly getting abused at her school. And her love interest didn't think it was a big deal when her ex assaulted Tabitha. Even if she does get better I don't at all want to read that. Update: Weezie wrote great review and goes into more problems so I recommend reading their review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Devann

    I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! Seriously this might be my favorite book I've read so far this year. It's either this or Dreadnought. It's amazing how much social commentary and diversity is in this book. You've got a fat main character who learns to love her body as it is and also one of her girlfriends specifically says that she loves her body and thinks it's attractive and that she's with her BECAUSE she thinks she's hot I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! Seriously this might be my favorite book I've read so far this year. It's either this or Dreadnought. It's amazing how much social commentary and diversity is in this book. You've got a fat main character who learns to love her body as it is and also one of her girlfriends specifically says that she loves her body and thinks it's attractive and that she's with her BECAUSE she thinks she's hot not like 'despite her being fat' or whatever. The main character is also bisexual so you've got discussion about bi-phobia which is just so great. And there is a lot about sexism + racism and 'white feminism' as well. Tabbi and Jackie were so cute together and all the characters just felt very real and I loved that even though they're all friends they still have differences and arguments and it showed that even when people mean well they can still say some pretty awful things and that we all have room to learn and grow as people. Also I liked all the girls' zines at the ends of the chapters. I'm too young to have been a part of the Riot Grrrl scene, but this book paints an absolutely amazing picture. This was exactly what I need right now and I definitely recommend it to everyone.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kazia

    Definitely a little rough around the edges and super didactic at times, but it 100% has its heart in the right place and yay for diverse queer and on-the-page bi rep!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Tajedler

    This book took me back 20 years or so ago and yet every emotion rung contemporary and true. Carrie Pack does a wonderful job in pulling the reader into Tabitha's world, her mind, her worries and her growth. Many Tabithas and Jackies are today's leaders of the resistance against injustice. A lot of moments in the book felt like Pack had a time machine to my own teenage years, so it only incrzased my own appreciation of the story. That being said, as a European woman, a lot of the Riot Girls movement This book took me back 20 years or so ago and yet every emotion rung contemporary and true. Carrie Pack does a wonderful job in pulling the reader into Tabitha's world, her mind, her worries and her growth. Many Tabithas and Jackies are today's leaders of the resistance against injustice. A lot of moments in the book felt like Pack had a time machine to my own teenage years, so it only incrzased my own appreciation of the story. That being said, as a European woman, a lot of the Riot Girls movement passed me by - the zines, the punk culture (vastly different here I assure you) - and it was all brand new information that I took delight into discovering. What I loved the most about this book was how, through Tabitha's experience, Pack shows that there is not one way of being a woman, of being a feminist,of fighting for what we believe is right. How you choose to be a woman and a feminist and resist is your own. Tabitha's fighting passes by her gentleness, her willigness to make her loved ones happy-- in the world we live in, that is the most radical form of resistance in my opinion, and I can't thank Carrie Pack for depicting it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Suzey Ingold

    I'll admit to knowing very little about the Riot Grrrls movement/that era (it's a little before my time and my understanding is that it didn't have quite the presence over my side of the Atlantic...) but the girl power vibes really beat through the heart of this book even without knowing all the history. In all honesty, it was such a joy even just to read a book with a predominantly female group of characters, focused on their collaborations and relationships (both platonic and romantic). There I'll admit to knowing very little about the Riot Grrrls movement/that era (it's a little before my time and my understanding is that it didn't have quite the presence over my side of the Atlantic...) but the girl power vibes really beat through the heart of this book even without knowing all the history. In all honesty, it was such a joy even just to read a book with a predominantly female group of characters, focused on their collaborations and relationships (both platonic and romantic). There is certainly some triggers to be aware of and some hurtful language from various characters—but the unfortunate truth is that attitudes like that did exist, and still do, even today. It may not be an idealistic portrait but it's a realistic one—that's not for everyone, but I do believe realism has its place in fiction.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Macy Klingerman

    I've been reading really good books lately, and this one is certainly no exception. I wasn't even born until 1995, a year after this book is set, but Grrrls on the Side still managed to create some sort of nostalgia in me for a scene and time I never got to experience. This book is a bit mixed media in the way that the author incorporates 'zines into the story. The 'zines really serve as a creative way to effectively bring to life the whole "90's" feel, allowing the reader to really transport th I've been reading really good books lately, and this one is certainly no exception. I wasn't even born until 1995, a year after this book is set, but Grrrls on the Side still managed to create some sort of nostalgia in me for a scene and time I never got to experience. This book is a bit mixed media in the way that the author incorporates 'zines into the story. The 'zines really serve as a creative way to effectively bring to life the whole "90's" feel, allowing the reader to really transport themselves back in time. This book may be set in 1994, but it still manages to be so timely. So many important issues are touched on throughout this book, like sexuality, racism, weight, and sexism. Our main character Tabitha is a fat bisexual girl, so I was able to find myself in her so easily. There were a few moments when Tabitha is bullied for her weight or sexuality that really struck close to home for me. The way that the punk scene was portrayed was interesting to read, as I generally gravitate towards the modern "alternative" scene myself. Carrie Pack does a great job of showing the different issues that come up when analyzing that scene, like racial inequality and sexism. At the time (and still to this day, to be totally honest), punk or "alternative" music was a very white male dominated area, and you can see the issues that arise from this in the pages of this book. If you're looking for something that will make you nostalgic for the 90's, or want to read something packed with girl power, give Grrrls on the Side a shot. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Grrrls on the Side is a charming and in-your-face YA novel set in the 90s alternative scene. Tabitha discovers a local Riot Grrrl meeting and goes as an escape from high school and her unkind former friends. What she finds there is more than an alternative movement, people with whom she can think about feminism, consider her own sexuality, and be faced with big issues like racism that she had barely encountered before in her privileged world. Pack’s novel combines the angry 90s setting that may b Grrrls on the Side is a charming and in-your-face YA novel set in the 90s alternative scene. Tabitha discovers a local Riot Grrrl meeting and goes as an escape from high school and her unkind former friends. What she finds there is more than an alternative movement, people with whom she can think about feminism, consider her own sexuality, and be faced with big issues like racism that she had barely encountered before in her privileged world. Pack’s novel combines the angry 90s setting that may be unfamiliar to many younger readers with issues that are still very relevant today, like intersectionality and different kinds of acceptance. She makes race a big point in the book, not shying away from the issues of white feminism, though the novel’s treatment is fairly light. Overall, indeed, Pack opts for a positive outlook, making this a novel that highlights issues, but is focused on the self-discovery of a teenage girl who needs to find a place in the world for being different. This makes it a good book for LGBT teenagers who need inspiring and empowering reads that give the message of fighting for what’s right and finding your own happiness, rather than something focused on the bad. It is a novel for those who find 10 Things I Hate About You too straight and white or who are looking for a fun YA read that doesn’t ignore real issues at the same time.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dani St-Onge (Literary Lion)

    http://literary-lion.tumblr.com/ Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 1994. Punk is in. Fat isn’t. At least that’s how it seems to Tabitha. Her ex-best friend bullies her, she hasn’t ever found a real group and her only friend is a guy she hangs out with behind 7-11. When Tabitha is given a flyer for a Riot Grrl meet up, she finally finds a group. Then she begins to discover a lot more about herself. The absolute highlight of this bo http://literary-lion.tumblr.com/ Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 1994. Punk is in. Fat isn’t. At least that’s how it seems to Tabitha. Her ex-best friend bullies her, she hasn’t ever found a real group and her only friend is a guy she hangs out with behind 7-11. When Tabitha is given a flyer for a Riot Grrl meet up, she finally finds a group. Then she begins to discover a lot more about herself. The absolute highlight of this book is the zine pictures. Each zine has a cute style and interesting articles written by the characters. It helps develop the characters views and personalities in a fun way while giving the book a definite style. Zines are very 90s, and it really creates an atmosphere. The plot itself is a rather standard coming of age affair. Tabitha is working on discovering herself, she has some family issues. She struggles with romance. She struggles with her self-image. It does have a nice punk spin and I really love the vibes that Pack has created. Strong, sexy punk girls galore. There are so few male characters I can count them on one hand including minor players. Sometimes it’s nice to have a no boys allowed book. Good representation in a book that’s fun to read is something I’ll always support. Of course, a book about Riot Grrrls is going to have some fabulous feminism but it also talks about race and how women of colour experience different struggles. It showcases those struggles. Tabitha is fat. Several characters are stated as bisexual. Just good all around. There were a few plotlines I was a little disappointed with though. At one point in the book, Heather begins acting a little friendlier towards Tabitha...and we never see her again. If the friendship was not going to be redeemed then that scene was pointless so why include it at all? Marty’s plotline is also never completely tied up. She’s a bitch, and while Tabitha tells her to behave better we never see her mend bonds with her friends. While it definitely suffers from a few hanging plot threads, Grrrls on the Side is a fun, diverse and spunky read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    julieta

    EVERYTHING I'VE EVER WANTED IN A BOOK.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    Grrls on the Side was a novel I was very excited to pick up. It sounded like a badass story about 90s feminism and I was looking forward to seeing some f/f romance. Ultimately I felt disappointed by this story and the lack of character development. I think while the book had very good intentions to fight white feminism, it just didn't really work out. There is a lot of problematic things said in this book and most of the time they do get challenged but it's still not handled well. I'd highly reco Grrls on the Side was a novel I was very excited to pick up. It sounded like a badass story about 90s feminism and I was looking forward to seeing some f/f romance. Ultimately I felt disappointed by this story and the lack of character development. I think while the book had very good intentions to fight white feminism, it just didn't really work out. There is a lot of problematic things said in this book and most of the time they do get challenged but it's still not handled well. I'd highly recommend this review for some detailed infos and excerpts on the problematic things that are not getting corrected in this book. There's quite a wide array of diverse characters but not all of them are portrayed well. The main character is a white, fat, bisexual girl. I know many people really loved the fat representation and as far as I can tell, it was very well portrayed. I think the struggles Tabitha has with her body are very realistic, while at the same time she constantly questions herself, realizing this is her body and that she loves it. Tabitha's main love interest is a lesbian black girl and I thought the portrayal of their relationship was not very well done. It's basically a constant back and forth were Tabitha doesn't understand that the's racist and Jackie doesn't understand she's biphobic. It's important to discuss your differences and Tabitha tries to be very open about questions regarding race but again, I don't think the conversations were handled very well. Tabitha often took her questions too far and she was even aware of that. I know this is Historial Fiction and a lot of it fits the time period but a line has to be drawn when a book has potential to hurt marginalized people. And I think this book has that for quite a lot of marginalized groups, although I can't speak for many of them. As far as the general plots goes, I thought it was overall enjoyable but really nothing special. It's a short book with just 230 pages but still felt like it was dragging in parts. Seeing the zines actually printed in the book was fun but that's about it. I really wish this had focused a bit more on positive female friendships in general but it was the opposite. It seemed like a lot of the relationships portrayed in the book, be it romantic or otherwise, were very toxic and I just don't think the book was long enough to challenge all of that. I received this book through Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Les Joseph

    Picture this. It's the early 1990's, and grunge and punk are the music of the time. Flannel shirts, combat boots, and zines, Grrrls on the Side by Carrie Pack showcases the Riot Girl movement of the early '90's with heartfelt poignancy. This whole world was a bit after my time in high school (but not much!) so most of this was new information for me. It doesn't mean I couldn't relate because boy could I and Pack has given us a book that will definitely take you back while making you think at the Picture this. It's the early 1990's, and grunge and punk are the music of the time. Flannel shirts, combat boots, and zines, Grrrls on the Side by Carrie Pack showcases the Riot Girl movement of the early '90's with heartfelt poignancy. This whole world was a bit after my time in high school (but not much!) so most of this was new information for me. It doesn't mean I couldn't relate because boy could I and Pack has given us a book that will definitely take you back while making you think at the same time. This is the first book by Carrie Pack that I've read but it certainly won't be the last. I have to commend Pack first and foremost for the fat girl representation as well as the bisexual rep. Tabitha Denton was such a great character and so easy to relate to. She's bullied in school for being fat and weird and it's not until she finds the Riot Girl movement that she begins to find her way and find a place where she's accepted. Her journey of self-discovery, both sexual identity as well as personal identity, was so satisfying to read. She's so likable and though she's got a few awkward moments and some painful ones, too, you just can't help but root for her. Grrls on the Side takes a look at many things. White privilege, racism, feminism, and sexual assault to name a few. Though the topics are heavy, the book is not. Yes, there are moments of painful self-reflection, but this just makes the book all the more real. The writing in Grrrls on the Side is excellent. Fast paced and full of emotion and wonderful imagery. I really loved how each chapter ends with an excerpt from a zine and interspersed throughout are snippets of poetry and song lyrics. There are a plethora of diverse secondary characters, both male and female, in the book and each and every one added something to the overall story. I was really fascinated by the whole aspect of Grrrls on the Side and really, the entire book was just a fantastic journey. This book will make you think, but it will also make you feel. I hope you'll check it out, it's definitely a book that should be on your Must Read list. *this review will also be posted on www.diversereader.blogspot.com*

  28. 4 out of 5

    K.E. Belledonne

    What I loved about this book was it so clearly mirrored my own teenage years and angst -- only cooler. I didn't know about Riot Grrrls, or punk, or bisexuality, or really anything outside my own little world in the least-culturally-diverse state in the US. While reading, I kept thinking "if only I'd had this book back then, how different my high school life might have been". I found Tabitha very relatable and seeing these new things through her eyes I know would have absolutely blown my mind -- What I loved about this book was it so clearly mirrored my own teenage years and angst -- only cooler. I didn't know about Riot Grrrls, or punk, or bisexuality, or really anything outside my own little world in the least-culturally-diverse state in the US. While reading, I kept thinking "if only I'd had this book back then, how different my high school life might have been". I found Tabitha very relatable and seeing these new things through her eyes I know would have absolutely blown my mind -- to know that all these things I was being told were "bad" and "crazy" and "scary" and "wrong" really weren't, and to see someone who was just like me begin to experience them would have been opened so much of the world for me. Is it a deep-read treatise on every single aspect of intersectional feminism? No. It's not. It can't be everything to all people, and it doesn't try to be. Will it speak to every aspect of everyone's life, gender and sexuality? No, but it doesn't try to. What it is is a smart, funny and touching story, a totally rad throwback to the '90s, when red lipstick and combat boots were edgy & tough, when young grrrls were just figuring these things out without any real sort of guidebook. If only we'd had this book back then to start us on our way...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. When I first heard about this book, I was so excited! Riot Grrrls! Punk! A fat bisexual Main Character! And all of these points were delivered on, sometimes even quite well. But for a book that praises itself on intersectional feminism, there is still a lot of terrible things going on. For a really long time in this book, racism goes unchallenged. Sure the black girls that are affected by it don't like it, Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. When I first heard about this book, I was so excited! Riot Grrrls! Punk! A fat bisexual Main Character! And all of these points were delivered on, sometimes even quite well. But for a book that praises itself on intersectional feminism, there is still a lot of terrible things going on. For a really long time in this book, racism goes unchallenged. Sure the black girls that are affected by it don't like it, but Tabitha simply doesn't understand why something like this might hurt somebody, even if her girlfriend regularly explains to her that it does. She actually only understands how her experiences as a white bisexual woman with accepting parents differ from the experiences of her girlfriend as a black lesbian woman, who has been not accepted at home and subsequently ended up crashing at a friend's place, when a white woman explains it to her. There is a super racist character that plays a huge role in the book. She always talks about how the black girls just make everything about race, while downplaying the racism and misogyny black women face especially for being black women. This is only ever called out by the black characters themselves, while the white main character stands by and thinks that it's kind off bad, sure, but not that big of a deal anyway and doesn't say anything. Repeatedly.  Also, I think sexual abuse and rape is portrayed horribly in this book. Pretty early on, one character outs another character as a sexual abuse survivor after she broke down in tears. Her pain and what happened to her is then used to make a statement ala all Rapists are Evil, Crush the Patriarchy, while the girl is still in the room crying. This moment really left me flabbergasted, because it just shows so little respect for survivors. There is also a scene where Tabitha gets sexually assaulted (after being told that she just needs a man so she won't be with women anymore, so uh be careful) and her girlfriend downplays this moment by saying she knows the guy who did it and she knows that he is harmless. After this, they break up, but the character still acts like she was in the right and Tabitha overreacted.  Then, of course, there is a lot of cissexism. Actually, this book is only for cis women. Trans people don't "exist" in it and vaginas and uteruses and "the body" are often compared to what makes someone a woman. For a book that wants to be about intersectional feminism, this just isn't okay. Then there is a scene where the main characters love interest refers to herself as butch and instantly the main character freaks out, tells her she's not butch, she's "all woman" to her (because she has breasts. And a vagina. So she's of course, definitely not butch, because it's a bad word. Also, god forbid trans butch lesbians exist. Woman = Vagina & Boobs. Yup. That's totally how it works.).  And last but definitely not least, there is the constant biphobia thrown towards the main character. She's undecided. Her sexuality is a phase. She's actually a lesbian because she had two girlfriends. Her bisexuality is thrown at her at the same time as the accusation of being indecisive. At least this is sometimes called out, but most of the time the character just thinks this is wrong and doesn't talk about it. It's just really heartbreaking to read. There's also the terrible blurb in which it says that Tabitha is not interested in boys which is, of course, complete bullshit, because she likes girls AND boys and seeing that erased in the blurb already is incredible bad. But what annoys me most is that this book had such a great premise. The riot grrrl movement and how zines were used back then (so cool!) was something I really liked and what most interested me in this book when I saw it. Some parts of this were actually portrayed well. But when you want to write a book like this, a book about this time, a book about intersectional feminism, then you really need to be careful not to include as many micro-aggressions as they are shown here, mostly without being really challenged. I definitely can't recommend this book to people who know what intersectionality means or who are non-white, LGBT+ and/or survivors of sexual abuse and assault.

  30. 5 out of 5

    abi

    This would've probably been a four star book if it wasn't for the fact that a dude forced himself on the protagonist because he was biphobic/homophobic af (strike one), the protagonist's first girlfriend didn't see that incident as a big deal at all and ended up breaking up with the protagonist over it (strike two) and the protagonist's second girlfriend insisted that she had to be a lesbian because the protagonist had only ever dated two people and they were both girls so she couldn't possibly This would've probably been a four star book if it wasn't for the fact that a dude forced himself on the protagonist because he was biphobic/homophobic af (strike one), the protagonist's first girlfriend didn't see that incident as a big deal at all and ended up breaking up with the protagonist over it (strike two) and the protagonist's second girlfriend insisted that she had to be a lesbian because the protagonist had only ever dated two people and they were both girls so she couldn't possibly be bisexual (strike three). Honestly I loved the format of this book and Tabitha was a mostly alright protagonist. I think they definitely somewhat glossed over some of the more important issues that were introduced i.e. racism, fatphobia, biphobia and lesbophobia which was probably due to how short the book is but there were some really solid elements there.

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