Double Teenage

By (author): Joni Murphy

A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2016

Double Teenage tells the story of Celine and Julie, two girls coming of age in the 1990s in a desert town close to the US–Mexico border. Starting from their shared love of theater, the girls move into a wider world that shimmers with intellectual and artistic possibility, but at the same time, is dense with threat.

This unrelenting novel shines a spotlight on paradoxes of Western culture. It asks impossible questions about the media’s obsession with sexual violence as it twins with a social unwillingness to look at real pain. It asks what it feels like to be a girl, simultaneously a being and a thing, feeling in a marketplace. Wherever they are—whether in a dance club in El Paso or an art lecture in Vancouver—these characters brush against maddening contradiction and concealed brutality.

This is a portrait of the recent past, seen through the cloudy lens of now. Murphy traces the lives of friends struggling within self-destructive realities. Part bildungsroman, part performance, part passionate essay, part magic spell, Double Teenage ultimately offers a way to see through violence into an emotionally alive place beyond the myriad traps of girlhood.


Joni Murphy

JONI MURPHY is a writer from New Mexico who lives in New York. Her debut novel Double Teenage was published by Book*hug Press in 2016. It was named one of The Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of the Year.


“Joni Murphy’s narrative straddles the line between a character-driven story and a treatise to be discussed, something living and breathing and something only understood from afar. There is more than one way to look at it, more than one valid formula.” —Buried in Print

Double Teenage is undoubtedly a feminist text, but it isn’t one that offers a pretty picture of its characters overcoming male-dominated systems of power. The book ends with that cryptic line: “This is a spell for getting out of girlhood alive.” Either this is Murphy’s metaphor for the entire book and the instructions are hidden within its pages, or it is a nihilistic gesture to show that the systems of patriarchy are embedded so deeply within every aspect of our society that only something as impossible as magic can fix it.” —Shannon Tien, Maisonneuve

“Brilliant and necessary.” —Jade Colbert, The Globe and Mail

“This is a novel gesturing outwards, pointing to the world, using the world and its threads to build something new, offering structure, frameworks, where we hadn’t seen such a thing before. Daring to state that girlhood is significant, even if it’s a stage, and even if it’s a stage.” —Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This

“Murphy seems to suggest this interpersonal connection that endures despite external and internalized misogyny is magic and is its own dizzying and overlapping network of survival and creation. In a culture mostly interested in the spectacle of dead girls, Double Teenage is a formally provocative counter spell to the facts of violence.” —The Rusty Toque


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200 Pages
8.00in * 5.20in * .80in


March 24, 2016


Book*hug Press



Book Subjects:

FICTION / Literary

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