by Beth Ditto
I'll admit it--I'd never heard Gossip's music before reading this book. I'd heard of Beth Ditto--it's hard not to when your reading diet contains a healthy dose of GLBTQ focused media--and her memoir sounded intriguing. Ditto details her childhood in rural Arkansas--poor, bouncing between family members, households where physical and sexual abuse were almost a given, and rarely commented on. She doesn't gloss over the bad stuff, but doesn't dwell on it, either, and truly cherishes her relationships with her siblings and other family members. Arkansas is not the easiest place to struggle with your sexuality, and Ditto worried about burning in hell and even tried to convince her boyfriend to get her pregnant so that she wouldn't have to deal with her feelings for girls. Moving to Olympia, Washington after high school didn't make everything instantly better--while able to be more involved in the punk music and Riot Grrrl scenes and able to explore her own identity there, Ditto was still poor and struggling. Even after her band Gossip started to get recognized and started touring, the members would still come home to look for another fast food or retail job to hold them over until the next tour. The latter part of the book, which discusses Gossip's success, particularly in Europe, a mysterious illness, and Ditto's adult relationships and body image activism, moves fast, and seems to end abruptly, but after all, Ditto is only 31 years old. She's found her voice in many ways already.