Out of the Dark: Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga
You can't rely on other people to be your strength.
You have to be your own strength.
You can't rely on love. Love will let you down every time. Every single time.
I don't love Jecca. I don't love Fanboy.
God, the buts in life will kill you absolutely every time, won't they?
I don't love. But I need.
Kyra is back home after six months in a residential mental health hospital, her diagnosis, overheard from the jaded floor nurses, DCHH--"Daddy Couldn't Handle Her." And indeed, he couldn't. Kyra's emotional state had already led to wrist-slashing in one suicide attempt, and when an anonymous call warned him that she has stolen a bullet from a friend, her dad Roger committed her to the hospital. Both of them twisted and torn by the horrific death of her mother from metastatic cancer, the two survivors cannot connect with each other at all, and as her dad falls back on rules and lectures and groundings, Kyra turns more and more toward her Goth friends and outright rebellion, sneaking out at night, stealing cars when she needs a ride, and staying in trouble at school.
But things are different when, after her time away, she tries to slip back into her place at school. Girl friends Jecca and Simone seem to care more about attention from guys than their old Goth loyalties. Simone, especially, has become little more than a black-clad school slut, and even Jecca is absorbed in her crush on the popular Brad.
And then there's Fanboy. Hurt that her friend never emailed or tried to contact her in the hospital, Kyra still longs to renew the closeness that they attained when she worked with him on his graphic novel Schemata. But the first day back at school, Kyra is shocked that he's gone over to the other side--hanging with the popular crowd, publishing his work serially in the school literary magazine, changing crucial parts with the advice of his new friend Cal, one of the jocks. Pulled between her overwhelming anger at what she sees as the ultimate rejection of everything they meant to each other and her admitted attraction to him, Kyra conceives a cruelly clever plan to "destroy" Fanboy, to web-publish something she be believes will make him a pariah at school. To do so, however, she realizes that she will have to pretend friendship to get what she needs to carry out her plot.
As the reader soon sees, Kyra's anger at Fanboy is displaced--displaced from her own irrational but deep anger with her mother for dying when she needed her most. Author Barry Lyga uses an effective device in which is revealed, in recurring and lengthening segments, the overwhelming scene in the hospital, the last time that Kyra saw her mother alive. The first such entry begins with the cryptic line...
The room The room The room is rosevomit because
Interspersed through the text this refrain appears, growing longer and more graphic, until near the climax of the novel the reader sees the real source of Kyra's blinding anger, anger against her fumbling, grieving, overwhelmed father, her all-too-human teachers, her self-absorbed friends, and most of all against her one real friend, Fanboy. The source is at its core anger at herself for failing her mother so completely at the end.
This self understanding comes when, desperate for a human connection, Kyra slips out to a late night party. Repulsed by the drunken make-out scene there, she slips outside into the icy night. Rejecting the temptation to allow herself to freeze to death, Kyra is arrested trying to steal a car to get herself home. Refusing to talk to the police and left to wait alone with nothing in her bookbag but a comic graphic novel Fanboy had given to her, she reads it and comes to an understanding of her fascination with death and yet what it means to live in an imperfect world. When her chance comes to make her one phone call, Kyra sees that she has one connection she can trust, one person who sees her for what she is, and one whose gift is showing her how to forgive herself.
But I know this: I can't be alone anymore.
I can't sit in the dark while other people fumble around in the quiet and the murk
trying to find me, trying to locate me, while I huddle in the pantry hiding....
I need to be out there.
I need to live.
Lyga's Goth Girl Rising (sequel to The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl) is an serious and absorbing novel for mature young adults, dealing as it does with the deeper issues of life itself--death, self-knowledge, responsibility to self and others, loyalty and friendship, and living in the world as it is--one that asks and gives much to the reader who has the persistence to look beneath the surface of this in-your-face main character. It's not going too far to say that this novel is about the courage it takes to accept redemption over self-annihilation.