Teenage girls are infinitely fascinating and mysterious to me (even though I was one once!). There’s such a deep emotional well and dynamic opposing elements, it’s little wonder that their world can make for excellent fiction when handled right (see Virgin Suicides and My Summer of Love).
Joyce Carol Oates makes the rebellion of teenage girls, and the intense friendships that can be formed, especially with little or no family influence, the topic of Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang. Told through the older, though perhaps no wiser eyes of one of the gang members years later, the story is mostly set in the early 1950’s in the run down town of Hammond, NY.
“Legs” Sadovsky is the gang leader, a bold, complex young hellion, beyond her years and an idol for admiration to lost girls. Under her watch and direction, a rag tag group of outsiders, all young girls and denouncing men, form Foxfire, a girl gang that goes beyond mere tattoos and matching outfits but delves into violence, recklessness, theft and eventually worse in an uncontrolled vent against a world with few options and many obstacles.
It’s a fast paced and quick read that I have on good authority is a million times better than the loose film adaptation which seems to take all the bite out of the plot and sets the story in the early 90’s with Angelina Jolie. It’s a shame, because in the right hands it could make a compelling movie. For now, read the book instead.