Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk

Ecco: HarperCollins. May 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780062825230. $29.99. MEMOIR
Bikini Kill frontwoman Hanna’s memoir is a raucous, rousing tale about the power of music and activism. Before becoming a pioneer of the riot grrrl movement of the early 1990s, Hanna grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive household. She used music and singing as a means of escape. After graduating from high school, she attended the progressive Evergreen State College, where she developed her talents in photography, fashion, and spoken-word poetry. It was the feminist writer Kathy Acker who first motivated Hanna to start a band in order to reach wider audiences. Hanna’s memoir is chock-full of details about her romantic relationships and her friendships with Kurt Cobain, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Joan Jett, and Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi. She notes her run-ins with Courtney Love and her inadvertent inspiration for Nirvana’s breakthrough single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” This is not a memoir about name-dropping, tales of woe, or feminism. Hanna’s story is a full-bodied portrait of a fighter and activist who has used music as a way to tackle adversity.
VERDICT A vivid, funny, and powerful memoir that will appeal to rock lovers and music historians.
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