The Chelsea Whistle by Michelle Tea
A Memoir (Live Girls)

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In this gritty, confessional memoir, Michelle Tea takes the reader back to the city of her childhood: Chelsea, Massachusetts—a place where time and hope are spent on things not getting any worse. Tea’s girlhood is shaped by the rough fabric of the neighborhood and by its characters—the soft vulnerability of her sister Madeline and her quietly brutal Polish father; the doddering, sometimes violent nuns of Our Lady of Assumption; Marisol Lewis from the projects by the creek; and Johnna Latrotta, the tough-as-nails Italian dance-school teacher who offered a slim chance for escape to every young Chelsea girl in tulle and tap shoes. Told in Tea’s trademark loose-tongued, lyrical style, this memoir both celebrates and annihilates one girl’s tightrope walk out of a working-class slum and the lessons she carries with her. With wry humor and a hard-fought wisdom, Tea limns the extravagant peril of a dramatic adolescence with the private, catastrophic secret harbored within the walls of her family’s home—a secret that threatens to destroy her family forever.

About Michelle Tea

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Michelle Tea is the prolific author of the Lambda Award-winning "Valencia, " the graphic novel "Rent Girl, " the "inspired queer bildungsroman" Rose of No Man's Land, and other books. She was a 1999 recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award for fiction. Her critically acclaimed books have appeared on "books of the year" lists in publications ranging from the "Voice Literary Supplement" to the "San Francisco Chronicle." She lives in San Francisco.
Published August 2, 2002 by Seal Press. 296 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Undone at last by lack of sympathy at home (“He never touched you,” rationalizes her mother), she breaks from her family and goes to live with a female lover, a radical feminist who makes her living as a prostitute, a calling that Michelle also takes up.

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Publishers Weekly

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The writing is well-honed (e.g., Tea describes her father extracting lobster meat as "pulling fingers from a glove"), and the image of the "Chelsea whistle" is poignant ("the boys it meant to call were the boys I would need to be saved from").

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Suite 101

Michelle Tea's childhood and adolescent memoir, The Chelsea Whistle, is a courageously intense book that details Tea's growing up in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and the lessons she carries with her.

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