Even rock stars had bullies. In their co-written memoir High School, Canadian rockers and LGBTQ icons Tegan and Sara Quin invite readers into the aches and agonies of their pre-fame teen years.
The sisters begin at the start of 10th grade, recalling pockets of acceptance among fellow outcasts. Told in chapters alternating from each of their points of view, High School sees the Quins through moments of huge terrors and tiny victories: admitting crushes, experimenting with their sexuality, unrequited love. Together and separately, they navigate the cold landscape of 1990s Calgary, and the emotional landscape of developing their individual identities as identical twins.
Independence comes in spurts and jolts, accounted for in 7-Eleven Slurpees bought with pilfered coins, tabs of acid swallowed in bathroom stalls and, eventually, standing up to the bullies on the bus. Music becomes the twins' oxygen; grunge, rave and punk offer connection, community. Making their own music is the next step, though the two actually began playing separately, each surreptitiously borrowing their stepdad's guitar, strumming alone.
Apropos of the Quins' approach to music, High School feels fresh, raw, beautiful and unpredictable. The writing sings, with stories bouncing and weaving through time. As the twins listen to a new Smashing Pumpkins album, Sara recalls the feelings it evoked: "Nothing had ever sounded more important to me." This memoir will inspire similar devotion from fans or any readers seeking a window into the pains and pleasures of self-discovery, coming of age and coming out. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer