There’s nothing that Trisha, a 14-year-old loner in the beaten-down town of Mogsfield, Massachusetts, likes better than to listen to music and drink beer in bed. With a couch potato for a mother, a white-trash live-in boyfriend who doesn’t exactly uplift the household, and a carbophobic sister obsessed with being on MTV’s The Real World, Trisha expects nothing from the summer ahead. Then, at a mall job gone bad, she meets the rebellious mall rat Rose, and her 24-hour adventure begins—from friendship to crystal meth to tattoos to wild sexual adventures on a golf course to, finally, finding herself.
MacAdam/Cage. 306 pages. $22. ISBN: 1596921609
"Michelle Tea’s new Rose of No Man’s Land is both a riotously funny coming-of-age story and a poignant cautionary tale that smacks of ‘there but for the grace of God’ heartbreak. … But Trisha’s cynical, wisecracking descriptions are almost too brilliantly evocative, too clever as she illuminates the story’s small cast of characters with vivid, telling details." Karen Campbell
"Rose of No Man’s Land is balls-out from the start, with Tea drawing on her poor Massachusetts upbringing to voice Trisha, a 14-year-old malcontent who speaks in capital letters (‘You’re Not Being Fair. You’re Taking Me Out Of Context’). … Not for the faint of heart, Tea’s writing is raw, funny, and tragic, but never forced." Whitney Pastorek
"So why is this book so impossible to put down? Because Trisha is a raucous observer of everything from mall culture minutiae to her sister’s reality TV dreams. Nothing gets by her." Allison Lynn
San Francisco Chronicle
"It is a trial by fire and one gets the feeling that despite the harrowing circumstances, Trisha has been cleansed rather than damaged in the process. … Like the narrator of Dorothy Allison’s sublime Bastard Out of Carolina, Trisha declines the altar of the victim, a seemingly ubiquitous stance in today’s literature, and in place of that offers the reader honest access to her befuddled but sympathetic life." David Hellman
NY Times Book Review
"Tea’s previous works seem like acts of preparation—apprenticeships in the badlands of memoir, lively, sprawling animals, unfettered by the pesky ball-and-chain of plot. … Tea is trying to do for working-class teenage lesbians what S. E. Hinton’s Rumble Fish and The Outsiders did for greasers and street-brawling tough guys in the 1970s and 80s: to let them be heard and felt." Lenora Todaro
Following on the heels of her graphic novel Rent Girl (2005), the award-winning Valencia (2001), about San Francisco prostitution, and The Beautiful (2003), a collection of poetry, Rose of No Man’s Land is Tea’s first novel. Critics describe it as raw, honest, confident, hilarious, unpretentious, cynical, and poignant—and agree that among coming-of-age novels, Tea’s voice rings true. Narrated by Trisha, the novel takes place over one day, which stretched credibility for some critics. Yet Tea’s first-person narrator and defiant sidekick, as well as her fantastic observations of pop culture, won critics over. Notes the San Francisco Chronicle: "Trisha refuses to become a poster child for what is wrong with youth today, and instead becomes what is most important of all, herself."