No Gods (Or: Peace without Fear or Bombs)

By Chari, 122 pgs.

Paressa is a twelfth grader at a public school in Canada. She worked at an ice cream shop until she got upset at the owner, who can’t run a business. Later he’s murdered in the alley behind a gay bar. Paressa gets a job at the library. Her coworkers like Bauhaus and The Cure. One of them is knowledgeable in the dark arts of buzz cuts. Paressa shaves her head. Principal Whyte is sympathetic. Sort of. Why, he asks Paressa, do you have to be a weirdo? She’s like, “Listen pal, I’m myself, and you’re a tool.” Principal Whyte loves Jesus a whole lot. He ain’t ashamed to crack on the loudspeaker and roll out the prayers. Paressa doesn’t hate the big guy in the sky, but she does have integrity, and you’re not supposed to spill the Jesus in a public school.

What happens next is Paressa and her friend, Wendy, decide to challenge Whyte by having Paressa run for student council president. And things go wild from there. We get Clash lyrics. We get shapeshifting cutie dudes who straddle the jock/punk line. We get cool librarians and Canadian history.

Author Chari is a bit of a mystery. What I know is that they have another book, All I Care about Is Music, and it’s part one of five in a series called Songs of Youth. This book, No Gods, is part two. There’s not a big reason for a thirty-something manbaby like myself to read about a teenage girl getting into punk, but I think I’d dig No Gods if I got it as a kid because I remember being really into Charles Romalotti’s Salad Days, which is broadly similar. –Jim Joyce (Sabba-Too-Jee Books, 260 Adelaide street E., Box 62, Toronto, ON M5A 1N1, Canada)

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