By Suzanne Kamata
Available now from Merit Press (F+W Media)
SCREAMING DIVAS is about a girl group composed of Trudy, Cassie, Harumi, and Esther. All of them write songs in their turn, and only Harumi starts out knowing how to play an instrument. Each of the girls is angry in their own way, and the band lets them express that. But not all of them can escape their worst impulses.
SCREAMING DIVAS dives right in with Trudy's trip to juvie and subsequent romancing of one of her father's students when she was just fifteen. It lets you know that these girls lives are not happy, that some of their issues have engendered behaviors that just make their lives more difficult, and gives a sense that things might not all work out for the best.
At 208 pages, SCREAMING DIVAS is a relatively short book, especially since it's telling the story of four girls. But I felt like it still worked. It helps that Trudy, Cassie, Harumi, and Esther are very different. Harumi's sections, for instance, are perhaps the most positive. She is sensible, talented, and has strength of will and character. Her life isn't sunshine and rainbows perhaps, but she provides a bit of fresh air when the rest of the story gets too dark. Esther's emotional journey was my favorite, as she comes to terms with her sexuality and then figures out what she wants romantically. Cassie and Trudy were the two who worried me the most, both of them so eager to be loved. I was so right, but at the same time SCREAMING DIVAS left me with hope.
Suzanne Kamata's sophomore novel is an appealingly gritty novel. (I think I would've actually liked it less as a teenager due to the underage drinking and sex and such.) It felt a bit like a soap opera at times, but in a good way. It is a book of feminine art, rage, and pain that will appeal to fans of Stephanie Kuehnert and Courtney Summers. Most readers will be able to connect to at least one of the four heroines.
Note: This review took me 30 minutes to write.