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The Torn Skirt

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,458 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
I was born with a fever, but it seemed to subside for sixteen years. . . . And then as I turned sixteen and stopped smiling, the fever returned though my skin stayed pale and sure, showing no sign of the heat inside me.

At Mt. Douglas (a.k.a. Mt. Drug) High, all the girls have feathered hair, and the sweet scent of Love's Baby Soft can't hide the musk of raw teenage anger,
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 15th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published September 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 19, 2012 Patty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is such a beautiful book. I loved its originality and storyline, I loved everything. It really inspired me as a writer because of how different the author wrote it, and it made me realize that books don't necessarily have to be written a certain way.

This book is a work of art, it's poetry, it's delightful, and moving. If you haven't read it, do so.
Nov 06, 2007 Lola rated it it was ok
Though i finished this novel some weeks ago, i had mixed feelings about its significance. At some times it was hard for me to suspend my disbelief in regards to some of the situations the narrator got herself into, and at other times i just wanted to roll my eyes becasue of her blatant stupidity passed off as teenage confusion and naiveté by the author.

Sara was not naive, in fact, she mentions several times that all she wanted to do was "fuck it all up." And that sums up my qualm with the entir
Katie Schell
Jan 01, 2011 Katie Schell rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book by far. It explores teen angst much like Catcher in the Rye, good imagery and very interesting Characters. Sarah possesess key personality traights that are very relatable to alot of teens or at least to the extent that they can identify with her feelings at one time in their lives. I think that many teens have felt at some point in their lives "fuck it!" and want to give up. Though this is not an original thought in literature it was done in a very refreshing way. I may ...more
Writer's Relief
Apr 03, 2012 Writer's Relief rated it it was amazing
This is no tired, typical young adult novel filled with teen angst. While the protagonist is a sixteen-year-old girl struggling to find her place in a hostile environment, Godfrey’s storytelling goes far beyond plot. Books about teenage girls dealing with pressures of authority, peers, sex, drugs, etc. are a dime a dozen. But rather than relying on a shocking plot to compel her audience, Godfrey digs deeper to present that tired story from a different perspective. Sara Shaw, the main character a ...more
Claudia Cutter
May 31, 2009 Claudia Cutter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
this book is really exciting. the writing is very good, too, strong imagery and a lot of cool people. one of the lines i especially liked was "Broken locks and bruised knees and borrowed lipgloss and rain on the streets." also, "shards of glass fell down like lacerated rain", just really good sentences like that which were very descriptive and beautiful. i think china/alice the prostitute was my favorite character and i understand why sara was so fascinated with her and justine, because they see ...more
Jonnie Comet
Dec 10, 2011 Jonnie Comet rated it it was amazing
I bought this book based on its description on Amazon and found the description didn't come close to representing the power of this book. I wish I could just describe the ending because it entirely blew me away. But getting there is at least half the ride.

'I was born with a fever, but it seemed to subside for sixteen years.' With this iconic understatement Sara begins her struggle to describe her life in terms outsiders will understanding. Her weird, wild fascination with the wily girl in the di
Jul 18, 2010 Allison rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I've read both of Rebecca Godfrey's books and I think what is most interesting about her is the way she is able to capture an adolescent emotional state of being. It makes sense, as her other book (which I think is better than this one) is a true crime story about a group of 14 year olds that killed a classmate. It is really well put together. I'd say the writing style is somewhat like Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". Both books, the nonfiction and the fiction, are about the town she grew up in ...more
Stephen Conley
Jul 12, 2011 Stephen Conley rated it really liked it
The only reason i gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because of the weak ending. After such a gut wrenching, fantastic tale, it just kind of fizzed out. Godfrey is a great writer in that among the moments of brilliance and the great lines, it's raw and almost amateurish. Sara is an incredibly sympathetic narrator. I felt bad for her entire situation, like she was a victim of her surroundings even though i don't really believe in that. The book is simultaneously stark, beautiful, and ugly. The scene ...more
Jan 26, 2009 Carrie rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
I am usually a fan of YA, and I also tend to like books that focus on characters on a downward spiral of drugs, drinking, mental health, etc. I did not enjoy this book. I never felt like I got to know the main character, and therefore never really understood some of her choices. Some of the other characters were stereotypes, although in some of the situations it could work since Sara knows some of these people for a short period of time. It was slow, and tawdry in a surprisingly boring manner. A ...more
Nov 04, 2013 Kinn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
this is one of my favourite books of all time. it's proof that young adult fiction can be beautiful, powerful, literary. it's one of those books that makes your blood boil and changes your life. after reading it, you walk around in a sort of fog, yet everything seems so clear. you feel like you know a secret that nobody else does, and you want to shake people and tell them to read this book and you beg them to let their blood boil, their fevers raise.
you have a fever with no cause. and you carry
Dec 08, 2008 Laura rated it did not like it
I'm rewriting my review- it was a bit harsh.

The Torn Skirt wasn't my favorite book, but it wasn't that bad. Yes, it was a bit slow and kinda boring. The ending was a disappointment and it wasn't very realistic-which it claimed to be. Anyhoo, I didn't like this book...but it wasn't a complete waste of time, I guess.
Feb 10, 2015 Madeleine rated it it was ok
Short Answer: Just read Girlbomb instead. You'll thank me.

This book tried to be edgy, without actually putting our protagonist through much. Most of her horror in a "Go Ask Alice" observation of the world, even making several disparaging references to that book.

There is genre that is very, very hard to do correctly, and that genre is the gritty coming-of-age tale of a well-off white girl on drugs.

No, this girl is not typically from extreme poverty, or abuse, or even struggling with her drug h
Mark McKenna
Warning: Spoilers below!

Written in 1980, "The Torn Skirt" is a dreamy, druggy stroll though a world peopled by drunks, druggies, rapists, losers and lost teens. Sara Shaw is 15, living with her dad (sporadically, as he is seldom there) getting high and spending time in the "Red Zone" a section of Vancouver where bars and prostitution flourish.

Sara spends the book in search of the mythic Justine, a girl who's famous in the Red Zone, mostly for being fucked up. In the beginning of "The Torn Skirt
Emily De
Nov 06, 2013 Emily De rated it it was amazing
the audience to this book would be teenage girls that are the opposite of goody two shoes and girls who are good girls and are wanting to change that, that are looking for excitment like doing something risky and real. teenage girls into action.
this book grabbed my attention i never wanted to put it down. what i like about it the most it doesnt give you a happy ending, it stickes to reality. it has a lot of action in it, one thing happens after another. its sad and makes you realize that making
Sep 28, 2012 Cheryl rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
I thought this was a horrible waste of time. I understand the way the author was trying to go, but it seemed forced. This is a genre that I often read and it just left you desiring something. Plus, it just drags. And the ending was just dumb. I mean really? It actualy pissed me off that I bothered to read the whole book when by page 20 I knew this was not going to be a good book. But I attempted to give it the benefit. You're better off reading one of the books that are mentioned in this book. I ...more
Jun 21, 2007 Chris rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: m'eh
I liked this book when I read it, but it doesn't really resonate as time goes on, as in it wasn't really good, just entertaining. Through years of reading "alternative fiction", you see many of the same charcters, and here is one of them, fully the only character in the novel: a normal girl who is searching for the punker girl she saw once, and therefore finds her new self in the underground. nothing particularly new, but fun. I will warn that my roommate read this book and hated it so much she ...more
Allison Floyd
Oct 04, 2011 Allison Floyd rated it liked it
If you’re going to trawl the depths of teenage angst, you could do a lot worse than this lyrical elegy to lost girlhood (which also documents the desperate attempts to lose it). It’s sort of the like The Bell Jar with more whoring and fighting. And Motorhead! A fast read with many right-on moments, and great one-liners, and just generally the sort of writing you want to slather on toast and bite into, even if you are, like I am, far-removed from this time of life. Recommended!
Aug 07, 2011 Ron rated it it was amazing
This is a fast paced and intensely powerful novel that recalls the stories of Mary Gaitskill and Amanda Boyden's 'Pretty Little Dirty'. Godfrey's tone is perfect and she gives her character a great voice, bringing to life the disaffected youth of the Reagan era from just north of the border on Victoria Island. She looks far too young to have lived through that time and created such an authentic piece, making it all the more remarkable.
Mar 16, 2016 Holly rated it did not like it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
I started high school in the late 1970s, when Led Zeppelin was still touring and releasing albums, "We Are the Champions" by Queen was a new single, and most of the girls AND boys wore their hair heavily feathered. In other words, I know the period this novel is set in pretty darn well, and I feel confident in dismissing this as adolescent, self-indulgent, pretentious crap. The narrator thinks she's wise and insightful beyond her years, but really, she's awfully stupid, even for a 16-year-old. A ...more
Jul 02, 2012 Audrey rated it it was amazing
I feel like I'd been waiting so long for this very book, the first one that's gotten everything right about how teenage girls run around carrying so much heat and anger, and how terrified everyone else is of that.
Oct 14, 2008 Louise rated it did not like it
The protagonist is an unsympathetic idiot. This book was in the dollar bin for a good reason. Too angsty and glamorizes the teen runaway/ gutter punk scene that was so annoying in the 90s.
Erin Betts
Apr 15, 2007 Erin Betts rated it it was ok
I read this when I was 16, someone suggested it. It was kindof okay, but mostly stupid and tawdry IMHO.
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it liked it
A harsh tale of a lost teenage girl in a world of drugs, prostitution, crime and violence.
Apr 29, 2016 cissy rated it really liked it
Shelves: coming-of-age
Beautifully written.
Lisa Bentley
Aug 29, 2015 Lisa Bentley rated it did not like it
Shelves: paperbacksummer
The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey is about teenager Sarah Shaw and how she manages to ruin her life in one week. That seems a fairly simple explanation but to be honest I couldn’t even begin to describe the intricacies of this story. It is too complex and not in a good way.

The book felt very contrived. It has been written with the intent to be as controversial as possible. It includes knife fights, family communes, teenage prostitution, juvenile delinquency, masturbation, drugs and attempted mur
Feb 09, 2013 Tara rated it liked it
3 stars: Good, but I probably wouldn't read again.

This was a random find at my library's bookstore. The title sounded familiar, so I figured I'd pick it up since it was only 50 cents (LOVE the library bookstore!).

The Torn Skirt is about a Sara who was "born with a fever" (the book is full of this type of writing. Some of it is pretty eye-rolling, but you get used to it quickly). Basically, Sara is a teenager. Every teenager thinks their angst is special, but really it's not. Whatever. Anyways,
Dec 15, 2010 Terry rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s, fiction
ETA: yes, I downgraded it from three stars to two.

I was mildly surprised to see this shelved in "adult" fiction in my local library as it's my understanding this is generally considered a "young adult" book. Hmm. I didn't really see anything in it that would remove it from the younger reader's section; it certainly has drug use and a number of events that are of a sexual nature, although the worst of them is talked about as an "off-screen" event. I guess my feeling is that as mature as the subje
Feb 01, 2008 Bethany rated it liked it
This was quite a tough and gritty story of a young Canadian girl who feel trapped in Victoria, British Columbia. The location plays a significant role in the main character's story. Sara Shaw came to Victoria when her father took her and escaped from an Oregon commune where they had been living.

Sara has found it hard to fit it among her classmates, and after hearing that her "burn-out" boyfriend and his buddies gang rape a female aquaintence, Sara reels in disgust and hatred. She finds herself d
Mishaela Meadows
Aug 13, 2015 Mishaela Meadows rated it it was amazing
I have read this book many times over and I really wish there was a sequel to this book. This book really sheds a light on many issues that young people face and this book is just a great adventure book. I find all of the characters in this book to be extremely intriguing and interesting. From the beginning, all the way to the end of this just pulls you in. I would recommend this book to everyone and I have told all of my friends to read it. If you like adventure, raw emotions, and su ...more
Apr 22, 2015 _giovannard rated it liked it
Shelves: my-ebooks
This book was okay. It has a good story line but, things just happened way to quickly and at times I found myself wondering "WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?", "WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN!?" or "OH NO....THAT DID NOT JUST HAPPEN!!" If it was much slower, I think I would have enjoyed it more. Also there were some things that could have been left out. Some of the events that took place in this book were a little to shocking.

Sometimes I felt that she was a bit dumb for her age, like how she didnt know the meanings o
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“Broken locks and bruised knees and borrowed lipgloss and rain on the streets” 19 likes
“Call it inevitable, call it the doomed fate of love. Call it karmic, fucked up, the dance of the wolves. Live it, love it, call it life. Call it Led Zeppelin. Yeah, yeah. Really, I don’t really, really don’t fucking care.” 12 likes
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