Final score 8/10
Homegirl! by Ryder Collins is an independently published novel that engages with the complicated themes of love, sex, gender, and class in a contemporary world. However, this is not your average love story. Through a cast of quirky characters and narrator’s social observations, Collins offers the reader a bold and provocative re-evaluation of these themes.
The plot follows Homegirl trying to find her place in the world as she is caught between her job in a cafe and her aspirations of becoming a writer. Homegirl’s love life is even more complicated as she is seeing both her work colleague, Punkboy, and a guy from her writing class, Richboy. Homegirl doesn’t feel the need to decide between these occupations and relationships so she pursues them simultaneously. However, an unexpected turn of events disturbs Homegirl’s balance and forces her to make some decisions.
Homegirl is both audacious and endearing. Homegirl does what (and who) she wants and doesn’t care what others think of it. However, the narrator endears Homegirl to the reader by matching Homegirl’s bold actions with an insight into her emotions. This humanises Homegirl and gives her a vulnerability that makes the reader empathise with her plight. Punkboy and Richboy are total opposites, not only on economic terms but also in temperament as Punkboy calls home ‘love’ whereas Richboy associates love with cruelty. The novel has a vivid cast of characters, all with names synonymous with their unique personality.
One of the strengths of the novel was the writing style. The language of the novel is blunt, colloquial and full of abbreviations and profanity. Although I initially found the slang and language idiosyncrasies a little alienating, after a few pages I got used to it and found the narrative easy to follow. This writing style is particularly powerful as events aren’t censored or glossed over but are given to the reader in their raw form.
One of the best points of the novel for me was the portrayal of Homegirl’s relationship with Punkboy. Although Punkboy has little speech in the novel, Collins clearly illustrates his respect and love for Homegirl through his actions. I also thought Collins’ characterisation of Shadow was particularly powerful; despite being a peripheral character for the majority of the novel he maintains a creepy presence throughout, thanks to everything from descriptions of his perverted thoughts to his twinging ‘neck rolls’.
This is not the sort of book I’d usually read, however I found it a refreshing change. If you love your literature bold and contemporary or if you fancy reading something a little more alternative I would highly recommend Homegirl!
To find out more about the book click here.