The Chelsea Whistle (Paperback)

By Michelle Tea

Seal Press (CA), 9781580052399, 384pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2008



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.