Bottle Rocket Hearts
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Bottle Rocket Hearts

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  410 ratings  ·  59 reviews

Welcome to Montreal in the months before the 1995 referendum. Riot Grrl gets bought out and mass marketed as the Spice Girls, and gays are gaining some legitimacy, but the queers are rioting against assimilation, cocktail AIDS drugs are starting to work, and the city walls on either side of the Main are spray-painted with the words YES or NO. It's been five years since the

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Paperback, 189 pages
Published April 14th 2007 by Cormorant Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,037)
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Kendra
Wow. I really love this book. It deserves to be on the Canada Reads Top Book of the Decade shortlist.
Sam
3.5 -- I quite liked this book. Whittall's prose is really lovely, and even though this is a story that has been told many times before, Eve's perspective of being a lesbian in Quebec during the 90's feels fresh and new. It's a story of girl meets girl, girl wanting to be with girl, girl who girl is n love with is a pathological liar, girl finally escapes and knows it's the right decision. It's a good story and the writing keeps the story fast paced and interesting.

However, Della. Oh my goodness...more
Leo Robillard
Zoe Whittall’s first novel is a simple story. Girl meets girl. Girl loses girl. Girl wins girl back again. Girl realizes aforementioned girl was no good for her in the first place. Girl leaves girl, once and for all.

Essentially, Bottle Rocket Hearts is a coming of age story set in Montreal in the mid-nineties, complicated by the sexuality of its protagonist. Eve’s in love for the first time with the wrong girl and she gets her heart broken. After a brief, precarious rapprochement, she patches i...more
Ciara
i wish i would have liked this better than i did. it covers topical ground that interests me a lot. the main protagonist is eve, a 19-year-old queer girl from the suburbs of montreal. she gets involved in the city's queer scene & starts dating a somewhat older woman. they are pursuing a non-monogamous relationship & eve is struggling to master her jealousy over her girlfriend hooking up with her glamorous, sophisticated ex on the side. she begins to realize that perhaps part of her jealo...more
Jill
I was nine in 1995. I lived west of Montreal and the city seemed like this big, far-off place my dad could magically navigate. I had no real concept of separatism (except that I would have voted a big NO and I knew my parents were worried), or homophobia, or alternative culture.

I am twenty-six now, and Montreal's become home. Reading Bottle Rocket Hearts was familiar; those throwaway mentions of places like Santropol or Foufs stir up my own experiences. I know this city, most of the time; love i...more
Caseythecanadianlesbrarian
Eve, the spunky 19-year-old protagonist of Zoe Whittall’s debut novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (2007), is a 90s rebel girl, screaming along with Kathleen Hanna as she rides her bike down Montreal’s Ste Catherines street in her silver spray-painted doc martens. Not despite, but because of her irreverent, dead-pan comments such as “I don’t have bad self-esteem, I’m realistic,” Eve is instantly a likable character who makes you root for her throughout Bottle Rocket Hearts; as the writer over at The Can...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I've been wanting to read this book since it came out, so when I joined the CanLit challenge this year it was good motivation to finally start reading. This is one of those times where I'm going to fall back on the publisher's blurb, because I've tried to summarise the book myself and failed miserably. This works much better:

In the year before the 1995 Referendum in Quebec, Eve wants nothing more than to move out of the bedroom community of Dorval and into the real city, Montreal, where she hope...more
Rachel Baker
What a good novel. The characters are vibrant, as are the descriptions of Montreal. I liked the slightly non-linear narrative structure and how Whittal brings everything together at the end. While the back cover indicates main story as a coming-of-age, the politics and Anglo/Franco tensions around the '95 referendum made for a complex and fascinating background.
Nina Lemay
Kick-ass queer NA-from-before-NA set in 90's Montreal. Beautiful writing and heartbreaking characters. What more can you ask for?
Jessica
I have decided I love reading books set in Montreal. In the '90s. In the newly discovered queer community by a privileged young anglo who is shedding her skin of modest upbringing and buried political ideals. Della is everyone's worst ex-boyfriend. The one who left you at a Pixie's concert with a massive hash high and the empty promise of forever. Eve is one of the few characters in fiction I have felt embarrassed along with, my own hindsight stored away in "well shit" vaults of growing up. She...more
Angie Abdou
Downed this in one sitting! Delicious. Zoe Whittall does for Montreal what Armistead Maupin did for San Fran. Reading Bottle Rocket Hearts felt like a trip to Montreal - except I instantly got to hang out with the in-crowd. This is my kind of novel. I can't wait to check out more of her work.
Bevin
Baby Femme coming of age in Montreal. Sloppy polaymory. The compulsive liar we've all been in love with. Apathetic natural food store shop girl. So much to love about this book. Pick it up.
Sandrine Guilbert
Loved This book, I found that the beginning was a bit hard to get into, but around the 75th page I really got into it and I couldn't put the book down till the end.
I really enjoyed that while her sexually was a big part of the story it was not the only thing important. I have read a couple other books where the protagonist was lesbian and it often annoys me how centered it is on it.I also enjoyed that it was set in my city, it made it easier for me to imagine it. Lastly the writing was good and...more
Kit
I recently read Holding Still for as Long as Possible and didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to, so I didn't have the highest of hopes for this book. As it turned out, I really loved it. Baby femme in mid-90s Montreal falls in love with a liar, tries to reconcile "a political belief in polyamory" with her own feelings of intense and ugly jealousy, makes friends, loses friends, and walks the line between multiple worlds as she tries to figure out what home is.

What I enjoyed most, I think, is t...more
Christa  Seeley
This review originally posted at Christa`s Hooked on Books -- http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot...

I want to start off by saying that this book completely blew me away. I picked it up from the library, barely knowing anything about it and I ended up devouring it in a single sitting and spending days thinking about it.

From the very first page this book is filled with very real and raw emotion. Eve is struggling to figure out what's going on around her and her place in it. On a basic level her...more
Em Milling
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
April
Evie is a baby dyke, just coming out and discovering love and women in urban Montreal right around the time of the 1995 Quebec referendum. Bottle Rocket Hearts covers barely two years of Evie's life, but a lot happens to her in that time, as it does when you start exploring your sexuality, love, women and what it means to be yourself.

Whittall writes this story from Evie's perspective, first person perspective all the way through, which can make the writing somewhat hard to take. It sometimes com...more
Dani Peloquin
Do not be fooled by this slender novel because Whittall packs in quite a punch! Set against the backdrop of Montreal's 1995 referendum, Whittall brings the reader into a world where rebellion is the norm and assimilation is not a guarantee. It is here that the reader meets Eve who is young and naive in this changing city. She wants more than anything to move out of her parents' house and start a life of her own. When she meets Della, Eve thinks that she has found the answer to her prayers. Della...more
Ocean
i drank this book in one huge gulp, because i am hungry for some portrayal of the life i've known as a queer girl weirdo. it was nice reading about peeps who blast team dresch on their walkmans during tense moments--JUST LIKE ME! GASP!--but ultimately i was left kind of unsatisfied. i really wanted to care about the characters, and i didn't. i really wanted to see what was so great about della, the main character's girlfriend, and also what was so awful about her. i got neither.
mainly the whole...more
Zoe
it's not just that the relationship in this book has a lot of resonance for me given my most recent breakup. it's not just that Whittall writes about a world that, though i was not a 20 year old in montreal in 1995, is one i belong to. it's that this is the sort of novel where particular sentences/thoughts are so well expressed, you have to read with a pen so as to underline them. here are a few of my favorites:

"the trouble with deciding not to define anything, is that it usually means you have...more
Lukas
Ok, so it took me a little while to read this.

There were some parts where I was like "that's my poster! why is she giving it to some character in her book that sounds way cooler than me!" -- you know, sibling-esque reactions to someone borrowing your stuff.

There were parts where I thought "oh, this is the femme-teen coming of age story where I did the butch-teen coming of age" -- and I found that really cool, another perspective...very different but with some cross over.

There were parts where I...more
Peachy
Eve is on a mission to comprehend herself and the complicated world around her in Bottle Rocket Hearts. She appears to be striving for an understanding of her sexuality, independence and originality, but mostly, unconditional love. Zoe Whittall covers a vast array of social issues with cheeky and valorous prose, never once coming off like an after-school special (all though our protagonist self-admittedly grew up on them in the suburbs of Montreal). I felt an immediate connection with the skitti...more
Rose
I had been super excited to read this, in fact it was a holy grail of sorts over the past couple of years because it had been really hard to find a copy. That, and because it had all bases covered in terms of themes that interest me. "Disappointed" is not the appropriate word, but this definitely didn't turn out to be what I had thought. In such a small space - 189 pages - I expected it to draw me in straightaway and be very succinct with what it wanted to say. It did neither of those things, an...more
Ayse
Apr 15, 2014 Ayse rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: lgbt
Interesting -- a perfect picture of a time and a place, both in life as a baby dyke and in the 90s scene. Hard to read in places, but will be familiar in the tropes and archetypes, if not as a lived experience, for anyone who was a young queer in the 90s or early 2000s
Carole
Zoe Whittall`s description of the Montreal setting and her many casual references to places, politics, institutions and cultural details are so `Montreal-authentic` that they lift this novel above the level of the usual first love/coming-of-age story.

The story itself, although textured in a somewhat more complex way because of the queer theme, is still pretty much a basic boy-meets-girl (or girl-meets-girl) plot. Whittall uses the first-person perspective very effectively and her character devel...more
Adrienne
I came of age and came out in the early 2000s, and one of the things I value about this book is that it gently reminds its queer readers that the political debates we are having, the angsty and often indignant musings about identity, the awkwardness that sometimes ensues when our intellectual and political feelings about relationships don't match up with our lived experience of them-- these things aren't new. Bottle Rocket Hearts cautions us against thinking that each of us reinvent the politica...more
Roxanne
This is a great piece of Canadian fiction. It is one of the few works of Can Lit with a queer woman at the centre of the plot. Whittall is definitely a good story teller. Her writing is tight yet descriptive.

I enjoyed the historical fiction aspect of the book. At the same time that the main character is going through her own romantic and growing troubles, the 1995 Referendum in Quebec is going on. The book takes place in Montreal so the lives of these characters are saturated in those events.

T...more
Korinna
I would of given this book less stars if there hadn't have been an interesting twist in the end. I had a hard time liking this book because I felt it was all about painting cliche portraits of queer feminist radicals. I didn't feel any of the characters did anything in the book that was straying from this caricature, therefore it felt really unrealistic and trite. This might be an interesting book for someone who has never been involved in the queer/feminist/radical activist scene, but for someo...more
Kiley
I read this right after The Bone Cage, and found one parallel: this bucks Can lit territory and offers a very different feminine voice than I'm used to from Canadian female authors: it's franker, rougher, more direct, and a bit more masculine if that's not getting too stereotypical. I liked it and could have seen reading it (even dancing to it) with punk rock music and a whiskey at hand (sadly, neither music nor drink was available). It reminded me of the terrible insecurity of entering adulthoo...more
Oliver
Dec 04, 2013 Oliver rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: queer people, those interested in Quebec history, those interested in Canadian lit
Recommended to Oliver by: newspaper
Wonderful to read as a young queer person. When I bought the book a few years ago, I hid this sexy cover from my mom because I wasn't out as queer (and sex wasn't/isn't talked about in our house).
This book is poetic, funny, and thoughtful. The characters actually feel like people you might meet somewhere.
I've met Whittal in person when she came to speak at Concordia University; she was very sweet. She has an active twitter too. If you liked this book, her book "Holding Still for as Long as Possi...more
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AfterEllen.com Bo...: Bottle Rocket Hearts. 1 38 Nov 02, 2013 04:17PM  
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Zoe Whittall has written two novels, Holding Still for as Long as Possible (House of Anansi, 09/10) now out in paperback and optioned for film. Her first novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts, was named one of the Best Books of 2007 by The Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire magazine. Now Magazine awarded her the title of Best Emerging Author of 2007. She has published three books of poetry, Precordial Thu...more
More about Zoe Whittall...
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“Della & I are drunk at the top of Mont-Royal. We have an open blue plastic thermos of red wine at our feet. It's the first day of spring & it's midnight & we've been peeling off layers of winter all day. We stand facing each other, as if to exchange vows, chests heaving from racing up & down the mountain to the sky. My face is hurting from smiling so much, aching at the edges of my words. She reaches out to hold my face in her hands, dirty palms form a bowl to rest my chin. I’m standing on a tree stump so we’re eye to eye. It’s hard to stay steady. I worry I may start to drool or laugh, I feel so unhinged from my body. It’s been one of those days I don’t want to end. Our goal was to shirk all responsibility merely to enjoy the lack of everyday obligations, to create fullness & purpose out of each other. Our knees are the colour of the ground-in grass. Our boots are caked in mud caskets. Under our nails is a mixture of minerals & organic matter, knuckles scraped by tree bark. We are the thaw embodied.

She says, You have changed me, Eve, you are the single most important person in my life. If you were to leave me, I would die.

At that moment, our breath circling from my lungs & into hers, I am changed. Perhaps before this I could describe our relationship as an experiment, a happy accident, but this was irrefutable. I was completely consumed & consuming. It was as though we created some sort of object between us that we could see & almost hold. I would risk everything I’ve ever known to know only this. I wanted to honour her in a way that was understandable to every part of me. It was as though I could distill the meaning of us into something I could pour into a porcelain cup. Our bodies on top of this city, rulers of love.

Originally, we were celebrating the fact that I got into Concordia’s visual arts program. But the congratulatory brunch she took me to at Café Santropol had turned into wine, which had turned into a day for declarations. I had a sense of spring in my body, that this season would meld into summer like a running-jump movie kiss. There would be days & days like this. XXXX gone away on a sojurn I didn’t care to note the details of, she simply ceased to be. Summer in Montreal in love is almost too much emotion to hold in an open mouth, it spills over, it causes me to not need any sleep. I don’t think I will ever feel as awake as I did in the summer of 1995.”
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“I was attracted to girly boys and boyish girls, or girls who later became boys. Boy were always going to be part of the equation.” 0 likes
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