Memoirs of a Suburban Girl isn't my typical reading fare. But I'd long remembered the amazing review from Lisa at ANZ Litlovers a little while ago. Can it really have been back in 2011? Eeep. And I'd harboured a lingering desire to read it.
Recently I was at my library stocking up on a completely unrealistic number of books to take on a short week away- my travel reading eyes are always so much bigger than my reading stomach. But I was determined to read it before it was due back and it's such a slim little volume (a mere 158 pages) I figured I could knock it over in a few days. That turned out to be quite wrong. It actually took me a few weeks. It's a dense read despite the brevity, and I struggled a bit with the somewhat jarring use of second person plural, but I'm really glad to have finally read it.
Memoirs of a Suburban Girl is a novel not a memoir, still it's a harrowing read. Our unnamed Suburban Girl is a 17 year old living in suburban Adelaide in 1979 when she meets Spunky Boy, SB. The relationship quickly turns violent and nasty, and yet she is enmeshed, trapped with her now Shitty Boyfriend.
The language and soundtrack is like a flashback to my own teenage experiences.
The week before you meet him, you race into the disco full of excitement, 'Born to be Alive' pumping out on the dance floor, darkness punctuated by strobe lighting and punters packed in like sardines.
Thankfully that's where any similarities end though. Suburban Girl is all too soon living with SB, working to support him, cooking his meals, and being beaten and abused by him in a myriad number of ways on a daily basis. She soon works out that he is a pathological liar and his past and present is a tangled web of lies.
So you battle on. You are not stronger than him physically but inside you have all sorts of plans and thoughts and ways to kill him off. You feel like damaged goods- a dented can of corn at the supermarket, a bag with a ripped corner and the rice is starting to spill out. You keep a big brick wall around a special part of yourself and none gets access to it, and that damaged part of yourself that lies behind the wall, is your secret, your shame, your craziness, and your strength to keep going.
All the time while reading I was hoping that this was indeed a true work of fiction, but it does ring awfully true. Turns out it is indeed based on Deb Kandelaars' life experiences, Wakefield Press released it in 2011 to coincide with White Ribbon Day, a campaign to end violence against women. Memoirs of a Suburban Girl is much more than an issue based story though, it's a great read for its own sake.