THE TORN SKIRT
When Sara's hippie father catches her masturbating after school, he can't handle what he's witnessed. In one of this whip-smart debut's many surreal scenes, he decides to move out—effective immediately. Godfrey's novel is full of equally disconcerting episodes, but its brash honesty gives them a giddily delightful spin. The departure of 16-year-old Sara's single father leaves her to fend for herself, and she quickly heads down the wrong path in mid-'80s Victoria, British Columbia. An obsession with Justine, a strangely alluring street girl, leads her into the red-light district, where she meets China, a teenage prostitute who persuades Sara to help her rob a john. As the new friends flee the crime scene, the deceived man threatens Sara, vowing to get revenge. Sure enough, just as she finally finds Justine again, she is accosted by the man, and Justine nearly kills him with a knife belonging to Sara. Though the book is a hell-ride through the lives of burned-out teens killing time in homeless shelters and drug houses, the scenery is transformed by Godfrey's angry cleverness: one character is "like the rising rowdy moment of a party just before the cops arrive and send everyone home." Though secondary figures like Sara's father and China don't get the thorough treatment Godfrey gives Sara, Godfrey's singular voice is a perfect barometer of teenage rage and insecurity. (Oct. 15)
Forecast:A great cover shot of a girl in a short skirt with a bruised knee gets exactly the right message across. This is a potential teen cult hit and should do particularly well on the West Coast, where Godfrey will tour.