Johanna's Reviews > Notes from the Teenage Underground

Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell
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Sep 05, 2012

really liked it
Read in September, 2012

A fast-paced story set to the backdrop of hippy-feminist mothers, disturbed girlfriends, Andy Warhol, and a whole lot of teenage angst. When we first meet Germaine (Gem) Gordon she laments her fears that she will never live up to her namesake, the mighty Greer, and that she will be forever overshadowed by her two best girlfriends Lo and Mira. The tumultuous triumvirate of girls take great pride in the outsider status that they have cultivated for themselves, relishing every cry of ‘freak’ that comes their way. This summer the girls have decided to take on a project worthy of their ‘alternative’ status, and equally as subversive as their attitudes towards conformity – welcome to the summer of the Underground.

While Lo’s ideas become increasingly provocative and dangerous, Gem finds a muse in the form of Andy Warhol and his factory of Superstars. Aided by her esteem for formidable women, Gem suggests an underground film project that serves to be sufficiently ‘underground’ as well as giving her an experience behind the camera and hopefully bringing her closer to her crush. However, like most plans involving three girls fighting over one idea, things start to sour rapidly.

This novel deals with isolation, art, protest, and abandonment. The
characters are almost comical in their egotism (but easy to sympathise with) and the emotions are kept terse throughout the plot. I was very impressed with the range of sources quoted in this novel – from famous feminist to film fantasies. A really great read detailing the desire to be different, and the not-so-subtle politics of the teenage realm.
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