If you're looking for Polly Clark, she'll be the girl wearing Doc Martens and a Bad Brains T-shirt at the punk show. She'll be (almost) losing her virginity to a high school dropout, accompanied by the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." She'll be looking for her artistic soul while trying to solve the mysteries of guys, life, her seriously dysfunctional family . . . and herself.In eight chapters, Polly is shaped by eight relationships in this honest, tender, original, and utterly endearing story of one girl's stumbles and successes in the world of punked-out 1980s suburban romance -- the unforgettable debut of an extraordinary new voice in contemporary fiction.
The boy-crazy heroine of Bryant's debut novel, Polly Clarke, is in junior high, lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C., hangs out at the roller rink and dreams of being on the drill team. But alienated by her home life her parents are divorced, her father's an alcoholic and her stepfather's unloving and by conformist pressures at school, she quits the drill team, trades her pastel sweaters for Megadeth T-shirts and takes up smoking. She becomes a devotee of the D.C. hardcore punk scene and has a string of dressed-in-black boyfriends, some sweet, some sleazy, some criminal. As she drinks and smokes her way through high school, she experiments with drugs, and during her first year in college is raped by an acquaintance while drunk. Afterward, she re-examines her self-destructive behavior and finds redemption in art, which becomes her college major. Though instructive and sometimes funny to anyone who remembers the degradations of high school, Bryant's novel, with its threadbare prose and angsty teenage narrator, reads like young adult fiction.