The 1980’s – a time of big hair, shoulder pads, leotards, jazzercise and get fit videos, well, that’s certainly how I remember it, but for two young thirteen-year-old girls in Pittsburgh, it was their time of coming of age, of discovering who they were and what really mattered to them. Randi and Tanya were absolute BFF’s (best friends forever) and the one thing that bound them to each other, more than anything else was their love of music, but more importantly their complete and utter devotion to their number one cultural icon – Madonna. When Tanya realises that Madonna will be performing live at their local Pittsburgh arena, attending her concert becomes the be all and end all of these two young ladies’ lives. In Mall Hair Maladies, Kristy Jo Volchko brings us a story of friendship, love and perhaps most importantly hair, that one feature that 80’s girls used to define their generation.
As far away from a teenage girl as it is humanly possible to be, I found Mall Hair Maladies to be an absolute breath of fresh air in among the usual murder, destruction and despair that frequents most of the books I read these days. Author Kristy Jo Volchko has set out to capture the spirit, the determination and the maturity of young people and she has done it beautifully. It would be easy to dismiss the characters as frivolous teenagers with little or no responsibility, but Volchko beautifully crafted into the story some meaningful and deeper reflections on life, on karma and most especially on friendship and what it means to be a true friend. I absolutely rode this fun tale all the way and although not a child of the eighties myself, I could see in their crazy adventures and their determination to do what they wanted to do, a lot of my own teenage years. This is a wonderful book for young people, especially, but also for those of us young at heart and tired of the continuing negativity that surrounds us in media, in film and in literature. Like Madonna, this book sings to its own song sheet and for that alone I can highly recommend it.