What I’m NOT Reading: Goth Girl Rising

Rightio! On to the sentences of FAIL for this week’s “What I’m Not Reading.”

From Goth Girl Rising — Barry Lyga

I guess I should have known, though. It’s not Jecca’s fault. She was probably just looking for the same things I was looking for… I think I’ve known, deep down, that this wasn’t anything permanent or real. Because I’ve always known that I’m not gay. And maybe I could be bi or something, but that didn’t seem right either. Mainly because there were no other girls I was interested in. You’d think if I was really, truly bi that there would be at least one other girl, right?

So, sorry, Kyra — you’re straight. How boring.

Okay, uh, the thing is… Kyra’s expressed TONS of interest in girls/women — their bodies, clothes, and expressions of sexuality have fascinated/repelled/drawn her attention the majority of the book. I mean, we’re at 85% here, and let me tell you: when Kyra’s not talking about girls’ power being their ability to control visual access to their breasts, legs, asses, and hips, she’s commenting on how sexy/hot her female friends are, or thinking about getting Jecca to kiss her/whether she wants to have Jecca as her girlfriend. She’s alternated this with thinking about how the best way to expose Fanboy (who she’s now, apparently, in love with?) as being as obsessed with pretty women’s bodies as she is everyone else. I’m all for characters having deep, emotional epiphanies, but seriously, if you have to bust out with declarative statements, second person, and “deep down I’ve always known” to enforce something that goes against the majority of the text? Go back and build up the thrust of this realization.  And that’s not even going into how incredibly homophobic it is to have this sudden insistence on Kyra’s straightness immediately before she’ll go and reconcile with Fanboy. How much better would this moment be, without the negation of queerness, with, instead, an emphasis on Kyra realizing that her friendship with Jecca (with its attendant sexual attraction, comfort, and desire) is very different from the sexual attraction and romantic connection she feels with Fanboy? She doesn’t have to be straight for that narrative to make sense. Also: being straight is not boring! Considering how much this particular narrator slut-shamed her friends, teachers, and peers for wanting male attention, being straight (and being like those BAD, STUPID girls that enjoy sharing their “power” with guys) would actually be kind of a stressful realization. Christ in heaven, keep your characterizations and their implications straight — use an index card if you have to!

 Got a really bad sentence? Send me it, the text it’s from, and why it FAILS, and I’ll include it in an upcoming “What I’m NOT reading” post.


  1. Maria says


    The thing is, Kyra is SUPPOSED to be a jerk — she’s just been forcibly institutionalized by her parent after he finds out that she’s still suicidal and struggling over the death of her mother a few years earlier. She’s not in the best place right now, at all, which leads her to strike out at the people who care about her (like Fanboy, her friends she’s constantly judging, a teacher who wants to sympathize with her, and her father). That’s totally cool. What I’m objecting to is that the WAY she’s attacking her female friends in particular (mentally calling them sluts, constantly critiquing their outfits and sexualizing their bodies, etc) AND her most significant sexual relationship being with a girl means that it can’t be A Lightning Bolt realization that she’s straight. There’s groundwork that could have been laid in-text to make that work.

  2. says


    It also feels like it’s putting the orientation label ahead of the experience, if that makes any sense. Like, she’s trying to date within the orientation she intellectually thinks she has. I think you should just accept your attractions as they come, whether they fit a label or your perceived orientation or not.

  3. Maria says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Also, the things Kyra and Jecca were looking for were comfort, safety, and affection. So… if those aren’t good reasons to have sex, what is? I guess the thing that also trips me out about this passage is that suddenly sex/desire/orientation goes from being about what bodies you’re into to being about life plans/couple-dom.

  4. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Side note: something I hate SO MUCH is when a book IS pretty good, and you’re about 85% of the way in, and suddenly BAM with the really ugly social message from left field that, supposedly, the text was leading up to. I’ve been known to throw a book across the room as if it had cooties when that happens.

  5. Maria says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Pretty much this. At first I was like, okay, MAYBE this is an extended discussion of grieving and how much mourning a lost parent and struggling with clinical depression can mess with an adolescent’s thoughts…? Oh. Never mind.

    My Kindle is too expensive to throw across the room!

  6. jennygadget says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    This seems to be a thing with Lyga. The short story he wrote for Geektastic managed to squick me out right at the end. Enough so that I nixed everything by him from my “to-read” shelf on goodreads.

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