Mosh Pit

by Kristyn Dunnion
ISBN: 0889952922

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A Review of: Mosh Pit
by Olga Stein

Once I started reading this somewhat shockingly frank book dealing with modern-day adolescent life, I had misgivings about having handed a copy to a teen I know. However, the sixteen-year-old quickly assured me that there was nothing in it she hadn't encountered in other books and/or movies, and that she wasn't offended in the least by any of the content. This in itself surprised me. When did teen' lit become so explicit-not just about sex, but about lesbian sex, drug-taking and addiction, prostitution, and a host of other things I thought were still kept behind closed doors, at least when it came to juvenile fiction.
Literature for young adults isn't what it used to be, but in important ways, what's good about it hasn't changed. Mosh Pit is well written, absorbing, and has plenty of lessons to teach, though this it does in a language today's youth can understand. Simone, the central character, may be, by conventional standards, an outcast-a dyke' with a mohawk, whose friends smoke drugs and go to rough clubs-but she's perceptive and sensitive, takes friendship seriously, and yearns to do better in school.
Simone's sexy friend Cherry, by contrast, is self-indulgent, wayward, and prepared to manipulate even her closest friends in order to get drugs or money to purchase drugs. Cherry's troubles really begin when she decides to quit school after receiving a verbal lashing from a teacher (a reminder to any educator to hold their tongues when disciplining a willful youth). Cherry's mother, as often happens with struggling women on the verge of poverty, is too tired to care, which leaves Cherry free to party nightly and take ever increasing quantities of drugs. As her dependency grows, her regard for her friends, especially Simone, diminishes, and she begins to capitalize on Simone's romantic feelings for her to her best friend's detriment.
Whenever there's access to a computer, Cherry posts her adventures on her personal Blog' site. She details her sexual experiences with her new boyfriend, Vincent, a drugpusher many years her senior. Cherry is obsessed with Vincent and her status as his girl. She uses her Blog entries to celebrate her new-found love, and to berate Simone for failing to do her bidding, especially when it hinders Cherry's ability to get additional cash. After being terribly beaten by a demented cop, Simone doesn't show up for her late-night shift at a seedy establishment that films girls wrestling one another for web broadcast. Cherry is furious. She's not interested in why Simone didn't make it to work. In her drug-addled state, she worries only about her own and Vincent's needs.
The Blog reports inform Simone of Cherry's whereabouts. They also make clear that Cherry is herself being used and quickly heading for a bad end. That end comes as a series of scams and convenience store heists leads to a more ambitious attempt by Cherry and Vincent to rob a neighbourhood grocery store. Unable to think clearly, they get away with money, but take a baby as a "hostage". When Simone attempts to rescue the infant, Cherry threatens to shoot her. Cherry has become emotionally hollow, physically emaciated, mean and desperate-a ruin of her former self. In the end only her age saves her from a life behind bars. Simone, on the other hand, learns from Cherry's mistakes, and moves on to better friends, and we hope, a brighter future.

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