Read This, Then That: 80s Teenage Angst

March 16, 2016

The level of hormones found in this edition of Read This, Then That is high (as is the love for Levi jeans and David Bowie). In both Live From the Underground and Queen of the Godforsaken we are introduced to a pair of teens in the 1980s who do not have the easiest lives. Their problems are compounded by negligent parents and a youthful inexperience for dealing with stressful situations.

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Read This: Live From the Underground by Corinne Wasilewski (Mansfield Press)

Then That: Queen of the Godforsaken by Mix Hart (Thistledown Press)

 

The level of hormones found in this edition of Read This, Then That is high (as is the love for Levi jeans and David Bowie). In both Live From the Underground and Queen of the Godforsaken we are introduced to a pair of teens in the 1980s who do not have the easiest lives. Their problems are compounded by negligent parents and a youthful inexperience for dealing with stressful situations.

In Live From the Underground, Darek Dabrowski and his family are forced into exile from Communist Poland after his father, a local Solidarity leader, refuses to pledge allegiance to the government. They are given one-way tickets to Lampeq, New Brunswick, in the heart of the Bible belt. His dad quickly settles into a new routine, choosing to leave their old life in the past, but his mother can’t let Poland go and she sinks further into depression, ignoring everything around her. Darek struggles in school and struggles at home; his only light spot is a tentative friendship with Eleanor.

Eleanor, however, has problems of her own. Pressured by both her minister and her parents, neither of whom know what she really wants, Eleanor accepts a spot at the local Bible College. After a violent attack, she finds herself in an impossible situation and cannot turn to her clueless parents. She finds friendship and comfort in Darek, a fellow outsider.

In Queen of the Godforsaken, sisters Lydia and Victoria are uprooted from their home in Vancouver to move with their parents to a rundown farmhouse in rural Saskatchewan. No one seems to settle in well: Lydia and Victoria stick out in a school where most everyone else is related; their dad, a university professor, only has one class a semester, so money is tight; and their mother spirals into a medicated depression. When their mother returns to Vancouver to seek medical help and their father picks up more classes at a university out of town, Lydia is left in charge of the farm and her sister for most of the week.

With little support from her father when he is there and unable to talk to her mom about the situation, things quickly get of hand. With the threat of being sent away to boarding school in the States after being truant for a month, Lydia and Victoria strike out on their own into the freezing Saskatchewan winter.

Being a teenager is hard in the best of cases. In both Live From the Underground and Queen of the Godforsaken, our characters are not teenagers in best-case scenarios. Living in unknown places and situations, with little support from the people in their lives who are supposed to guide them into adulthood, they try their best.

 

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