A visceral story of friendship, music, and bloody revenge
Rachel feels like she doesn’t fit in until she finds heavy metal and meets Fern, a kindred spirit. The two form their own band, but the metal scene turns out to be no different than the misogynist world they want to change. Violent encounters escalate, and the friends decide there’s only one way forward . . .
A bloodstained journey into the dark heart of the music industry, Boring Girls traces Rachel’s deadly coming of age, Fern at her side. As the madness deepens, their band’s success heightens, and their taste for revenge grows ravenous.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Sara Taylor sings and writes songs for the Billboard-charting band The Birthday Massacre. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her Shetland sheepdog.
Read an Excerpt
By Sara Taylor
ECW PressCopyright © 2015 Sara Taylor
All rights reserved.
I have always lived in the same house in Keeleford. My family never moved, I never had to start all over again in a new school. I had that sort of idyllic childhood, growing up on a street with neighbours we knew. A nice community, you know. A normal youth. A good family.
My parents didn't have a ton of money. We have a small bungalow, with three bedrooms, on Shade Street. Next door was Mrs. Collins, who lived alone there after her husband had died. Across the street was an elderly couple. On the corner lived a family with a few kids younger than me and a dog that always chased us along its side of the backyard fence when we'd walk by. When I was five, my sister Melissa was born. There was a little store nearby where Dad would take us to buy candies: red jelly feet, cinnamon flavoured lips, black licorice sticks. There was a park nearby. Our schools were in walking distance.
My father was a high school teacher, but he worked at a school in a neighbouring town, so luckily Melissa and I would never have to face the social awkwardness of having our dad in our high school. We did, however, have to face the awkwardness of having a father who taught English and always liked to hit us up with word games.
He would sit at the dining room table, marking his papers, and I believe he liked to compare the intellect of his students with the intellect of his daughters, always raging to Mom about our superiority, of course.
"Rachel," he'd say to me, "can you think of a word that rhymes with orange?"
I thought for a minute, because when I was younger, I liked these games. I liked that my dad, a teacher, would come to me for my ideas. I liked thinking that I was smarter than the older kids in his classes.
To this particular question, I answered "porridge."
"Okay," Dad said. "Now make a 'roses are red' poem with orange and porridge."
I thought for a few more minutes and then announced,
"Roses are red,
Violets are orange.
The three bears' porridge."
"I love it!" my father said, beaming at me. "Creative. I've got fifteen-year-old kids in this class who couldn't think of that. Marilyn," he said to my mother, "your ten-year-old daughter is writing better poetry than my class is."
Melissa got into it as well:
"Roses are red,
Violets are orange.
When it rained,
It was a storm."
"Brilliant!" My father applauded. I knew that mine was better. Of course, Melissa was only five, I could concede that. But I believed that my father thought me to be a genius, and it inspired me to start writing poems and stories. I kept many journals when I was young, which I never showed my parents despite my desire for their praise. I believed my diaries to be full of secrets which were mine alone, regardless of the irrelevancy of the events they recorded.
But I always wrote them with the idea that someone would read them. I remember being in fifth grade and receiving my first diary as a birthday gift. It had a little lock on the outside that you could easily pick. I wanted to make a good impression on my phantom audience. I wanted my future readers to be intrigued by me, to marvel at how exciting a life I was leading, to be impressed by my intellect. If my family ever snooped, I wanted them to be surprised.
So I started making things up. Spicing up my existence. I would casually mention how a police officer had asked for my help to solve a crime and how he had admired my detective skills. I would write about how I had fought off a kidnapper who was attempting to abduct a little kid, and how the kid's parents offered me a reward which I graciously declined. My diary became filled with so much fantasy, which was more interesting to me than the dull normality I actually existed in.
My mother worked as a receptionist in a dental clinic, and she also loved art. When me and Melissa were babies, she created paintings for our rooms: watercolour scenes, flowers, portraits of us. Her stuff was all around the house, really. And her shelves were packed with books on art history. Big, heavy books with thick, glossy pages filled with paintings. Those books were really something special to me, almost magical.
I remember looking through the books with her, always focusing on the ones with children. She'd talk to me about the paintings and the artists, pointing out the colours they used and why they worked well together, complementary colours — you could make blue look brighter by putting orange next to it, things like that. I didn't really absorb much colour theory, but it was fun that Mom would do crayon drawings with us and let us use her fancy grown-up paints too. I didn't know any other kids with moms who would do that.
Some of the pictures in the art books were pretty frightening to me when I was little. She'd skip by sections of the book to avoid them, but I'd see them, even in quick flashes: Christ being crucified, his haunted eyes and bloody hands. I didn't like that.
One afternoon when I was about twelve, I was looking through one of her books by myself and I flipped to a page and froze.
The painting was of two women. One wore a blue dress and one wore a red dress. They had pinned a very large man down on a mattress and were obviously struggling with him, and winning. The woman in blue was cutting the man's neck with a sword, and blood was spilling onto the bed.
I was transfixed. The women looked so calm, so focused. They were working together on this. The title of the painting was Judith Slaying Holofernes. I called my mother into the room.
"Mom, what's this painting about?"
She looked at it thoughtfully. "I believe Holofernes was a cruel war captain, and Judith is the woman who was sent to kill him to save her village. You know, the artist of this painting is a woman. She's remembered as sort of a feminist artist who did some very important things for women in her time."
"Who's the other girl?"
"Judith's maid, I think." My mother turned the page, and there was another painting, where Judith and her maid carried a suspiciously shaped bag. "Yes, it says here, Judith and her Maidservant."
"They have his head in that bag," I said.
"You know, Rachel, I don't really like these paintings," my mother said. "Don't you think that they're very violent?"
"But the girls are friends. And they killed him for a good reason."
"Yes, they did," my mother said. "But I think it would be nice for you to look at some other paintings in this book. That picture is very sad, and I think it's nice to look at good things to make ourselves happier. It's more inspiring."
In bed that night, I kept thinking about Judith and her friend killing the war captain, against all odds. I didn't see how my mother couldn't find that inspiring. I wanted a friend like that. I wanted an ally, someone to have a secret with, someone I knew I could rely on, someone I could trust with my very life if I needed to.
* * *
So with our father praising our intellect and my mother encouraging creativity, Melissa and I really did grow up happily. I got good marks in school, especially in art and writing classes, and I had a few good friends.
I was not overtly social. I preferred to read or draw and write in my free time, but I went to the birthday parties and was in the school play as some minor role. I enjoyed all those things, but what I really wanted to do was be creative on my own. And my parents always supported that.
Once I reached high school, like pretty much every human being on the face of the earth, I stopped caring so much about what my family thought of me. My dad's cute word games became annoying, but Melissa still played with him, so I was luckily exempt. I didn't care so much for my mother's paintings, seeing as how there is only so excited I am able to get over a watercolour sparrow. And then I discovered metal.CHAPTER 2
I had never been popular, and right around the time I turned 13 I started realizing that most of my "peers" were annoying as hell. I watched good friends reprioritize their whole lives: instead of wanting to make up stories or read, they wanted to wear lip gloss and have all the expensive name brand clothes and giggle whenever a boy said anything. Don't get me wrong, I wanted a boyfriend too, but for some reason I wasn't willing to laugh at bad jokes or present myself as some sort of airhead to impress someone. And my unwillingness to do these things ostracized me when I began high school.
But I was fine being a loner. I didn't mind that there were no party invitations. I preferred going home, shutting myself in my room, and working on stories or my journal or my (in retrospect embarrassing) poetry. I didn't want to hang out with my parents and Melissa; I enjoyed being by myself.
What I wasn't fine with was the abuse that came with it. It wasn't enough that I had no friends. I had to be mocked as well, apparently. People in high school are very cruel. I didn't have it as bad as some kids, because I wasn't chubby or pimply or smelly or poor. But I was "weird."
Some kids who got picked on desperately tried to fit in with those assholes. Which I found pathetic. They'd make fun of a kid for having stupid hair and the kid would show up the next day with a new haircut and a hopeful look on their face, which always resulted in more ridicule. They'd tease a kid for having cheap shoes, and the kid would show up with a rip-off of the expensive brand, and they'd just get destroyed for it. But always they'd scramble around, trying to please. Whether it was to actually fit in and be accepted or whether it was just to make the bullshit stop, I have no idea. But I couldn't respect it. Which made me hate the outcast group too.
The thing with me was, they victimized me, but it didn't have the effect they wanted it to.
One day in ninth grade I was sitting by myself in the hallway eating an apple. I was wearing a dress I liked, green with a purple paisley pattern. One of the biggest wastes of the Earth's resources I have ever encountered, Brandi Stone, came and stood in front of me, arms folded, flanked by two of her idiot friends.
"That," she said to me, "is the ugliest dress I have ever seen."
Brandi was one of the school's beloved, celebrated and gorgeous. She was in my grade, but partied with the older kids. I had seen many a nerd attempt to take her cruel fashion advice, only to set themselves up for more abuse.
"This dress?" I asked her.
"Yes. That dress. It is the ugliest dress I have ever seen," she said, smiling at me. Her friends giggled and all of them awaited my response.
I had no idea what to say. I couldn't believe their ignorance. Hadn't they seen the teen movies? Couldn't they tell that they were parodies? Didn't they know that they are the sort of bitches that everyone is supposed to hate?
I puzzled this over to myself while we looked at each other. I guess I was supposed to cry.
"I said, that is the ugliest dress I have ever seen," she repeated. "Are you retarded?"
I didn't say a word. I was so stupefied by their ignorance of themselves, of who they were.
"Retard," one of her friends sneered.
I sat like a statue. They stared at me. I'm sure they started feeling kind of stupid. I was supposed to weakly defend myself. I was supposed to snivel, Leave me alone.
"Stupid bitch. Stupid weirdo," Brandi yelled at me, and they traipsed off down the hall, where they joined some older boys by their lockers and started giggling.
So that was it. I was a stupid bitch and a stupid weirdo, a fact that they never failed to remind me of for the rest of that year. And not just Brandi and her friends; apparently they felt that my failings needed to be communicated amongst their entire social circle. Kids in the older grades who I didn't even know shouted stuff at me as I walked to my classes. And I started feeling like shit about it after a while.
See, it wasn't being alone or disliked that I minded. It's that I couldn't understand where the hell the other people like me were. I did want a friend. I wanted an ally. I wanted a partner. Someone else who would get it. Someone who understood what it was like to not have the desire to be accepted by these people. I started feeling very lonely, which pissed me off in principle. I liked being alone, but I was starting to think maybe I was insane or something, because all I saw, all day at school, were assholes and people trying to kiss up to them. It disgusted me that it was making me question myself.
Brandi seemed to develop an intense personal dislike for me, which I found baffling, as I had barely said a single word to her, and she knew absolutely nothing about me. And yet she would literally go out of her way to call me names, to verbally assault and mock me. Teachers let her get away with things, boys adored her, the nerds worshipped and feared her. I couldn't understand her. I hated that I was even wasting energy on trying to, but it became a daily thing that year. I hate to say it affected me as much as it did, but at least I always kept my head high and pretty much ignored what they said to me.
It was towards the end of my grade nine year, which I had spent friendless and tormented, that something changed me. I had not gone out once, I had spent all my time in my room, but I was proud of myself. I'd done well in my classes and I had focused so much on my poetry and writing. My parents were fine with me. Sure, my mother would occasionally ask me if I'd met any new friends, but I wasn't getting into any trouble. I was a good kid. There was no reason to really worry.
It happened at the end of that school year. All that was left were exams, then a few months away from the assholes. The school was pretty empty that day, just a bunch of exam-stragglers kicking around, and I was heading out after writing a geography exam. It was very hot outside, and as I opened the back doors of the school, a rush of heat swept over me, contrasting the air-conditioned cool of inside.
I saw Brandi leaning against the wall. Her eyes narrowed when she saw me. I was confused. She wasn't the bully type, who would wait for their victim out back. I began to walk past her.
"Hey, bitch," she called.
Of course I ignored her.
"I said, 'hey bitch.' You should listen to me when I'm saying something to you," she hissed and grabbed my shoulder from behind, turning me roughly around to face her.
I was absolutely, completely stunned. Not only had I never had any sort of violent confrontation before in my life, but I had never been so physically close to Brandi. I could see light freckles on her nose. I could smell her coconut perfume. It was too intimate and I felt overwhelmed and sick.
She leaned in close, with that familiar smirk on her face, and I recoiled. I was afraid she was going to hit me — I knew I couldn't fight, and I didn't know what was going to happen.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," Brandi sneered. I knew she could see the fear on my face, and I hated that. I hated it so much that my eyes welled with burning hot tears.
She laughed. "Are you going to cry now?"
I felt the strength that I'd tried to empower myself with over the school year collapse. My reserve of proud nonchalance was destroyed. I'd tried to be so arrogantly numb to people like Brandi, almost amused by their stupidity, and here it was: in the moment it counted the most, I succumbed. I wilted. I felt tears roll down my cheeks.
"Fucking retard." Brandi seemed to lighten up, giving me a pretty smile. "You want to know what? Next year, I'm going to fucking get you. Do you understand? I fucking hate you, you ugly bitch."
Then she pushed me, hard. I stumbled backwards and fell on my ass. Instinctively I curled up, hunching my shoulders and moving my arms to protect my face in preparation for her attack. But there was none, and when I looked up at her, she was laughing.
"Ugly bitch," she repeated, and then walked back into the school.
I got to my feet and walked quickly across the schoolyard towards the back gate, and the sidewalks that would lead me home. I wanted to run, but part of me feared that Brandi was watching me from the back door and would get such a laugh out of that. Watching the stupid, ugly bitch run home.
Excerpted from Boring Girls by Sara Taylor. Copyright © 2015 Sara Taylor. Excerpted by permission of ECW Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I wanted to like this book. It just didn't happen. The main character, Rachel, was so ridiculous. I felt no empathy for her, she was complaining constantly about everyone and everything. She was by far the most judgemental character in the book. Who refers to their pajamas pants as being stupid? Why are flannel pajama pants stupid? ? That irritated the crap out of me! This author was clearly trying hard to create an image of this particular kind of girl who just doesn't fit in and is so above everyone else and it just fell flat for me. ..
This book is literally called "boring girls".....WOW