cover image Kicks CL

Kicks CL

Janet Fitch. Clarion Books, $14.95 (251pp) ISBN 978-0-395-69624-8

Laurie Greenspan thinks her hip friend Carla has ``the coolest parents in the world,'' especially compared with Laurie's Russian emigree mother (``You only had to screw up once around Lena Greenspan to figure out which side of the Volga you'd landed on''). Her father, once a rising academic, is utterly ineffectual, a ``shell of a man'' since a traffic accident 10 years ago, and her geeky older brother, Murray, gets all the praise and attention. Rebelling, 15-year-old Laurie tries to act like the ever-wilder Carla, who hooks up with a group of drug-dealing bikers. First-novelist Fitch's dialogue can be pungent (""`You think I give a flying fuck if [my parents] CARE?' Carla shrieked....`Go take your sympathy and cram it up your ass'""). In contrast to, for example, Shelley Stoehr's graphic Weird on the Outside (reviewed Dec. 12, 1994), Fitch's use of explicit language and her close-up treatment of seamy scenarios serves a clear purpose: it demonstrates her understanding of teenage temptations. In this way Laurie's final rejection of the fast life seems part of the drama, not a cautionary message. True to its title, this accomplished work packs quite a kick. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)