First up, Martha O’Connor is a brilliant writer. No question about that. Second, The Bitch Posse isn’t for everyone. I know a wide variety of people read this blog, and — let’s just say that if you find the title offensive, you won’t like the inside any better.The Bitch Posse is a dark, raw, often graphic and disturbing book about three teenage girls caught in a web of self-destructive behavior, whose close friendship may be their salvation — or their downfall, depending on whose perspective you take. The novel follows the same three women into their later lives as they deal with the consequences of their adolescent rebellion. One character’s life has completely fallen apart, while the other two seem, on the outside, to be living successful lives while inwardly dissolving into chaos.
All three women — and girls — are strong and well-drawn characters, and it’s impossible not to get caught up in their unhappy lives. I raced through the book, completely engaged even when I was distrubed and repelled. I didn’t exactly identify with any of the characters (although in a way I felt Wren/Rennie, the only-marginally-successful writer and teacher, could have been me in a life horribly gone wrong), but the novel made me reflect on the young girls I work with and how close this story seems to their experience. Reading this book dovetailed neatly (though uncomfortably) with my thoughts about the Dawson College shootings in Montreal this month. There’s a lot here to think about, a lot to make readers uneasy and uncomfortable. The author warns readers up front that this book is not chicklit, and she’s being straight with us.As a chocolate-lover I’m always on the lookout for good dark chocolate. The other day I saw a bar that advertised itself as 99% cocoa. I didn’t buy it. I think that chocolate bar might have been a bit like The Bitch Posse — undeniably high-quality, but a little too dark and bitter for some of us.