No Alternative by William Dickerson
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.
Summary: NO ALTERNATIVE is a coming-of-age drama that drills a hole into the world of suburban American teenagers in the early 90's. Thomas Harrison is determined to start his own alternative band, an obsession that blinds him to what's either the mental collapse, or the eruption of musical genius, of his little sister, Bridget. Bridget boldly rejects her brother's music, and the music of an entire generation of slackers, by taking on the persona of an X-rated gangsta' rapper named "Bri Da B." No Alternative probes the lives of rebellious kids who transition into adulthood via the distortion pedals of their lives in an era when the "Sex, Drugs & Rock'n'Roll" ethos was amended to include "Suicide" in its phrase. *** William Dickerson sets into motion a series of relationships against the backdrop of the suicide of Kurt Cobain, recreational drugs, keg parties in fields, Jesuit high schools, the Baby Boomers who gave birth to the children drinking from kegs in fields, killing commies with laser beams, depression, and the rise of anti-depressants to combat the depression, the New York State Judicial System, Melanin Theory, corporate behemoths from Seattle, the next Nirvana, the emergence of Biggie Smalls in White America, headshrinkers, smoking cigarettes, Converse sneakers (the Jack Purcell's, not the All-Stars), sibling rivalry, parental expectations, Catholicism, and the felony theft of something that was to never be. And let's not forget: Garage Bands; the real thing, not the software, Gangsta' Rap, Grunge, and Generation X.
Review: A tragic tale that deals with teenage angst and delves past its surface to the depression underneath.
As one of the millennial generation (also known as generation Y), I was only 9 when Kurt Cobain died. I was certainly aware of grunge although I was born too late to be very affected by it. The author does a good job of setting up the story, which includes helpful summaries on events affecting generation X and enough information to provide meaning to the story. Generation X could very well be considered a lost generation. They have no big cause or event in their lives to give meaning so they find meaning wherever they could.
Perspective and context is really everything. You want to consider Thomas and Bridget to be tragic figures that are failed by their parents and society. How much is it society and how much is their family and how much is it themselves? This book certainly poses those questions and the answers will obviously vary per person, family, and society. I was not expecting the ending although I suppose it is fitting. Those this book is tragic, it does contain a rebirth and demonstrates the fact that life goes on.
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those looking for a serious read about teenagers and Generation X.