Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Valencia” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.76  ·  Rating details ·  5,139 ratings  ·  296 reviews
Valencia is the fast-paced account of one girl's search for love and high times in the drama-filled dyke world of San Francisco's Mission District. Through a string of narrative moments, Tea records a year lived in a world of girls: there's knife-wielding Marta, who introduces Michelle to a new world of radical sex; Willa, Michelle's tormented poet-girlfriend; Iris, the be ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by Seal Press (first published 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Valencia, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Valencia

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,139 ratings  ·  296 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Valencia
Aradia V
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book saved my life. I was literally in bed so depressed that I was planning on ending it. Dramatic yes, but very true. Someone had given me the book; I picked it up and couldn't put it down. She was tortured, but exciting..and honestly in my mental state I didn't even notice how messed up she might After finishing, I decided that I wanted a life worth writing about! I got out of bed, came out as femme and started having my own amazing adventures.
I can't say it will have the same pro
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Fast paced and diaristic, Valencia sketches a vibrant portrait of lesbian life in ‘90s San Francisco. Recalling Eileen Myles’ Chelsea Girls the autobiographical novel is told from the candid perspective of author-narrator Michelle, a twenty-something queer woman recently moved to the Mission District, who recounts her sundry hook ups, romances, gigs, fights, and adventures from the time. At the start Michelle sets out on a road trip to Tucson that she hopes will help her forget a crush, but by t ...more
Dec 01, 2007 rated it did not like it
It's probably wrong to review a book after only 50 or so pages. But god, this book is annoying as hell. as a "queer urban girl" from san francisco, Michelle embarasses me, as she rambles long run-on sentence paragraphs about her tragically hip dyke "radical" friends who are so bad, so sad, they cut themselves and fuck on the dance floor and have stupid names like Tricky and Spacegirl. Her world consists of"Punks", as defined by their clothes, hair and tattoos, who move here and treat the city li ...more
For a San Francisco reader in the late 2010's it's impossible not to read Valencia through a prism of nostalgia. The subcultures and spaces Tea captures so vividly have now all but disappeared, so many of the coffee shops and dive bars and affordable apartments that provide the staging for Tea's autobiographical experiences now transformed into trendy bistros, expensive boutiques, and upscale bars with "mixologists" that take ten minutes to make your cocktail because it requires a dozen differen ...more
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
This is a memoir of a 25-year-old lesbian in '90s San Francisco documenting her times drinking, not working, and having a lot of latex-gloved sex with various girls. It's plotlessness really worked for me, and I figured out it was because Tea is completely honest as an autobiographer. This became apparent when I was planning on thinking she was pretentious, and that never coming to be. I assumed she was going to try and make herself sound really hip, being a counterculture woman swinging in one ...more
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Sure, I'm biased because I'm from SF and worked alongside Ms. Tea at Books, Inc. where she hosted crazy book readings with hard liquor. Sure, I'm biased because I was never part of that scene, but secretly envied it. Reading the book, however, I didn't feel a bit of envy. I just enjoyed the scenes from afar. Sure it's from the era of the 90's, and therefore dated; sure, it's about lesbian sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, as well as the famous Folsom Street Fair in SF, fisting, and ...more
May 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book does a great job of articulating everything I hate about belonging to such a specific subculture. The first half of the book was slow for me, and I have a knee jerk disapproval of people who claim a working class background but are as irresponsible and treat work with the abandon that Tea does. And while this book isn't all about drugs and alcohol, it is enough about drugs and alcohol to bore the hell out of me. Halfway into the book, though, it does have a shining clump of chapters, b ...more
Jason Pettus
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
san francisco's michelle tea is the most vital writer of her generation, one of the few people from our era they'll still be studying 100 years from now, and in valencia she is at the absolute top of her game. dirty, shocking, subversive, with an embracing of a complex sexuality and lifestyle that needs no apologies, tea's work has a good chance of permanently changing your life after being exposed to it or at least getting you looking at the "war of the sexes" in an entirely new way. highly rec ...more
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: radical dykes; those who once were radical dykes; people who need an education in radical dykes.
i thought this book was fucking amazing amazing amazing. i could not stop reading it and read it really really fast, everywhere. on the subway. in my bedroom. on lunch break from work. the writing is real and interesting and a bit stream of conscience-y, but i truly got into it because a young crazy radical michelle tea is a narrator i can easily identify with. ok--so i never went to the dyke march high on speed--but i definitely had the "FUCK SHIT UP!" period of my life where my crazy in-love m ...more
I keep trying to read Michelle Tea's books because she is our local lesbian celebrity, but I find her books a little heavy and over-the-top. But I'm weirdly fascinated with reading them, too. Kind of like driving by a train wreck and not being able to avert your eyes. I feel the same way about some Joyce Carol Oats books. Someone described JCO's writing as grotesque once, and that's a good word to describe Valencia, too. I mean, how many freaky, unstable 20-something lesbians are there, having s ...more
Patrick O'Neil
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Halfway through Valencia I somehow misplaced it. I don't know where it went, but my read got totally interrupted. In a fit of "socialism" I hit the local library and grabbed their dog-eared copy. It was well used and slightly beat up, the corners chewed, pages sticky, with scribbly notes in the margin. Looked like every lesbian teenager from here to Venice had already had it in their sweaty palms. And who could blame them. It'd be like reading an anthem – like me twenty-five years ago reading Bu ...more
Jun 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Michelle Tea signed my copy "Nice to see you again" so there is no way I will swap this book. Sitting in my back yard in the Mission, a stone's throw from most of the places described in the book, helped flesh out the events she described but nonetheless, I think it would be a good read anywhere. I guess in the vein of Annais Nin and other writers who are explicit about their romantic life, this book it top notch. Tea doesn't try to flatter herself and rather explores some unflattering experienc ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it liked it
A great dyke beach read.
Christopher Jones
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
ABSOLUTELY LOVED this ......Michelle wears her heart on her sleeve and I TRULY LOVE her for what she has created, EMPOWERMENT I rest my case!!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Oct 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to emily by: lindsay intersimone
"so the planet of me completed its revolution around the heart..."

"we will drink cocktails so sweet they pucker our mouths, and we will run through the streets in excellent danger."

this book took my breath away, and not just because it was one of the first novels i've ever read that was about dyke culture without being trashy. oh sure, michelle tells a seedy story full of drugs and booze and sex, but what she's mostly telling the reader about is her heart. like Annie On My Mind, -valencia- is a
Bob Koelle
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Michelle Tea is one annoying lesbian" said a friend. I can believe that, but she writes really well. This book is about nothing, except the day to day wanderings of over-dramatic women with zero responsibilities, except to their own feelings. There's no plot, and the book could have ended anywhere. Indeed by the end, I was growing tired of this girlfriend and that drunken evening. It's all just passages, but at her best, the passages read like Ellis or McInerney. One example: "Oh, I wanted her ...more
Sep 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
Michelle Tea irritates the crap out of me. Sorry.
Nov 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feministy, memoirs
I first read Valencia for one of Susan Fraiman's brilliant seminars (I think Contemporary Women's Texts?) during the spring of my first year of college. Michelle Tea was my first introduction to real lesbian fiction, and she absolutely excels in channeling the frenetic pulse of the girl scene in San Francisco circa the early 90s. Her memoir/fiction (the lines are blurred) zings with the unbound energy of the idealistic, and when she's heartbroken, she's heartbroken to a degree I think only the y ...more
JSA Lowe
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book stole my heart completely. Comparisons to Francesca Lia Block are inevitable—only, you know, if Weetz were writing a memoir about being a lesbian sex worker and crystal meth user in San Francisco in the eighties. But the same exuberant love and detailing of a specific place/time/clan, and the attention is lavish and beautiful and so, so, so heartbreakingly young. Also I kept wanting to quote passages to you guys every few pages, mostly about breakups but also just these hilarious littl ...more
I. Merey
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: girl-on-girl, 2015
6 stars for writing
2 stars for painful, embarrassing identification with main character

This is the type of book I adored when I was younger. What am I saying, I still love these books. And it is written by a younger person (or at least recounting the tales of a younger person, not sure how old Tea herself was when she wrote it) so that's all well. The book propels on the trajectory of great Beat writing, chaotic and going nowhere and everywhere at once; the narrator and the prose having no respo
Apr 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminista
This is an awesome hour-and-a-half read that allows me to indulge in my funky/punky/bad side a little. It's a little bit pornographic (ok, a lot bit) so if that makes you uncomfortable I'd maybe shy away, but there is plenty of beauty in between those parts. It's a pro-sex lesbian in San Francisco discovering her self and her sexual identity through the sub culture she is immersed in. She's not perfect and she doesn't try to make herself look good- so she's pretty easy to relate to.
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer, fiction, reread
I read Valencia when it first came out about ten years ago and I HATED it. Words could not express my loathing for this book. I thought it was self-involved, pretentious, obnoxious, terribly written, and completely lacking in both plot and character development. I found a copy at a thrift store last week and decided to reread it and see if my opinion had changed. I didn't expect that it would; however, I was surprised to find that I kind of like it. Not entirely, but kind of.

It's still lacking i
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, recommended, lgbt
If the definition of a successful novel is one that instantly whisks you away to a different time and place, then Valencia is a highly successful novel.

It takes Michelle Tea less than a page to plunge the reader into her gritty, exuberant version of San Francisco. Tea’s stories – of unsettling sexual experiences, of bad jobs, of drug-induced adventures, of being poor-but-happy in a city you love – will be familiar to most twentysomethings. Yet the narrative is so raw and emotional that the usual
Jul 13, 2009 rated it liked it
This was pretty okay. Sara M. loaned it to me on the fly (hey, Sara, give me some books to read!) and said it was your basically predictable SF lesbian writing, which it was, but that it would be a decent throw-away pool read, which it also was. That's not a dis to Michelle Tea or anything--unlike many books I've read recently, at least some interesting stuff happens in here--but when you're from the Bay Area proper this type of writing fails to maintain the edgy feel it might have for a reader ...more
Claire LaPolt
Jan 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt, memoir
A sad, meandering account of the author's many girlfriends and friendships while living in the dyke community of San Francisco's Mission district. The writing style comes across very stream-of-consciousness, floating around in time and going back to some things over and over. It's not very organized, but also not difficult to follow.
Characters seem to appear out of nowhere, already Michelle's friends, which disappointed me a little because I was interested in how she had met all these people in
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
The first half of the book was pretty difficult to get through, although now I think that was all apart of some necessary character development and that I was supposed to feel annoyed with the tings of insecurity and immaturity coming from the narrator. All in all, by the end of the book, I felt like there was a very genuine chunk of a "Coming of Age: Part II" in there that was gross, exciting, dangerous, and real. You know, the early twenties shit where you're supposed to already be grown up bu ...more
Oct 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
I live and work on Valencia Street, but I never had as much fun on it as these gals. Run right out and pick this up for a taste of how the modern bohemians are doin' it.
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: predominantly lesbian cast
Apr 26, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer-fic, fiction
I didn't read the entirety of it; I'm not a fan of writing styles that are fast paced and jumping from one thought/story to the other that I can barely make sense of or find value. I do think stories like this are inherently valuable to me because I always want to know but it reads sort of like diary entries and that's not my cup of tea. Certain aspects of this book felt very visual and I can see how this could possibly work in a different medium, maybe short films that are interconnected someho ...more
Apr 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book, I really did, because it was sent to me as a random act of kindness. WARNING: BOOK SPOILER.

The reasons I didn't are myriad: (1) I couldn't stand the primary character. Her way of living and using people just disgusted me (NOT because she's lesbian, though). (2) The book felt like it was just a series of accounts of her relationships with very little substance either in the relationships or to connect the accounts. (3) The author's style of sentencing and forming para
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Rubyfruit Jungle
  • The Price of Salt
  • Stone Butch Blues
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
  • Curious Wine
  • In the Dream House: A Memoir
  • Tipping the Velvet
  • Written on the Body
  • Patience & Sarah
  • Annie on My Mind
  • The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
  • Chelsea Girls
  • Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
  • Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
  • Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through
  • Ash
  • Females
  • Cool for You
See similar books…
Michelle Tea (born Michelle Tomasik) is an American author, poet, and literary arts organizer whose autobiographical works explore queer culture, feminism, race, class, prostitution, and other topics. She is originally from Chelsea, Massachusetts and currently lives in San Francisco. Her books, mostly memoirs, are known for their views into the queercore community. In 2012 Tea partnered with City ...more

News & Interviews

In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
37 likes · 24 comments
“Gwynn, she was always talking about wanting to be drunk and honestly I did want to encourage that, I wanted to go to a bar with her and let all the stuff sobriety pushed down be released so I could catch it in my palms and finally kiss her. She was just so sad. Melancholy was a fleshy wave permanently cresting on her face, she had to speak through it when she talked.” 22 likes
“She didn’t know that my heart was a sandstorm waiting to open her skin in a desert of cuts. She didn’t know the animal that waited in my stomach, silently shredding the walls. For her, my heart wore small white shoes and carried a purse, went to bed early. I wanted to shoot myself into her arms so she understood the need to crash cars with me, to tear up pavement because we were beautiful.” 19 likes
More quotes…