Sister Mischiefby Laura Goode
Listen up: You’re about to get rocked by the fiercest, baddest all-girl hip-hop crew in the Twin Cities - or at least in the wealthy, white, Bible-thumping suburb of Holyhill, Minnesota. Our heroine, Esme Rockett (aka MC Ferocious) is a Jewish lesbian lyricist. In her crew, Esme’s got her BFFs Marcy (aka DJ SheStorm, the butchest straight girl in town) and Tess (aka The ConTessa, the pretty, popular powerhouse of a vocalist). But Esme’s feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini), a beautiful, brilliant, beguiling desi chick, are bound to get complicated. And before they know it, the queer hip-hop revolution Esme and her girls have exploded in Holyhill is on the line. Exciting new talent Laura Goode lays down a snappy, provocative, and heartfelt novel about discovering the rhythm of your own truth.
- Laura Goode — Quote
Hip-hop and rap, racial tensions, sex positivity, religion, coming out, even parental abandonment: At its low points, this reads like a checklist of hot-button issues.
But beneath the politics and too many lists of hip-hop/rap artists lies a touching story of impossible first love between narrator Esme, who knows she likes girls, and good friend Rohini, who might like girls but whose family is too traditionally Indian for her to even consider openly questioning her sexuality. There is also an improbable but entertaining students-against-administration subplot as the girls (Esme, Rohini, tough-but-beautiful Marcy and good girl Tess, who has fallen out with the A-list Christians) fight a recent ruling against any rap or "associated" apparel or materials at school. They create an alternative 4H (Hip-hop for Heteros and Homos) and hijack an assembly to drop some seriously intellectual beats. Highlighting the clutter of issues are frequent intrusions of a political, message-heavy adult voice. Do teen rappers, even white Jewish lesbians in the Christian heartland, really come up with lines like "We're done with sex hypocrisy up in this here gynocracy"?
Snappy dialogue, likable characters and an original concept make it hard to entirely dismiss this one, but the message overwhelms the good stuff. (Fiction. 14-17)
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- Laura Goode — Quote
Meet the Author
Laura Goode was raised in Minneapolis and received her BA and MFA in English and writing from Columbia University. She has written and directed two full-length plays, and her poetry has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Cannibal, and Narwhal. She lives in San Francisco.
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Esme, Tess, Rowie, and Marcy are typical high school juniors in most areas. They are good students with their eyes set on top-notch colleges. For the most part, they don't give their parents any grief, and they keep their noses clean in school. However, they do have one passion - and when school authorities declare that this passion is no longer to be allowed at school, the girls rebel. Holyhill High School is adding a new policy to its school conduct code, and each student is required to sign it. The new policy outlaws hip-hop music and any apparel, or behavior, associated with it. This has Esme and her friends seething. The girls may not look like it, but they are hip-hop rappers to the core. They call themselves Sister Mischief, and they are good. Tess is the vocalist, Marcy provides the beat, and Esme and Rowie work together to create the rhymes. Hip-hop lets them express who they are. Tess used to hang out with the conservative Christian majority who populate the school district, but she stepped over to the hip-hop side when she began doubting her faith. Marcy's rhythm comes from her involvement in the high school band's drumline. Rowie is the daughter of two Indian doctors, and Esme lives with her artistic father and considers herself a true word nerd and a lesbian. When news of the new anti-hip-hop policy reaches the girls, they all agree they will not be signing it. Their real plan for rebellion comes when they are called to the principal's office about their refusal to sign. As spokeswoman of the group, Esme announces that they are starting a new school club devoted to the study of hip-hop music and the possibility of using it to create a positive view of sexuality, especially regarding women. The principal agrees to a deal, allowing them to hold their meetings in a location just off the school campus in return for their signatures on the form. It is obvious that the school administration is not supportive of the girls' new group, and when they become a target for harassment, they are determined to retaliate. With the help of their growing membership and the behind-the-scenes support of a possible staff advisor, they are out to change the attitude of one of the most highly regarded high schools in the country. In addition to their quest to have hip-hop recognized as an important musical genre, the girls are also learning very personal lessons about love, loyalty, and understanding. When Esme reveals to her friends that she is a lesbian, the relationships in the group go through changes that threaten the long-time friendships. Author Laura Goode uses creative language and intense emotions to grab her readers and involve them in the girls' passion for their cause. The stresses of school, family issues, and self-discovery make SISTER MISCHIEF a book teens will surely relate to.
I could see this as movie. It would be a great Disney type movie except for the cursing and lesbians. And, while you might be able to lose the cursing, the lesbian part is a big part of why this book works in a different way from the standard YA love story. Music is hard to read on paper and rarely comes through so while I could picture the girls rapping and singing I couldn't really "hear" it. But the message comes across pretty well despite the discrepancies of medium. Overall, it was worth reading. If you love hip-hop, then this is the story for you. If you love LGBT stories, then this is the story for you. If you like high school empowerment , then this is the story for you. If you don't like any of the above, well, then I don't know what to tell you.