SAU Buzz

Mary Reads Books: Grrrls on the Side

by Mary Roche
Posted on Mar 03, 2018

Set in 1994, Grrls on the Side tells the story of Tabitha Denton. She’s just a 15-year-old trying to find out who she is while dealing with sexuality and body image issues. When she finds a group of girls who want to change the world, she feels a little more herself. Throughout this text, Tabitha is forced to justify some of her views and confront the white privilege she benefits from.

Carrie Pack knows what she wants readers to think about, and that is clear throughout this book. The discussions of sexuality, body image and racism seemed thoughtful. Tabitha must choose who she will be in a world that focuses on straight, skinny girls. On top of all this, her mother is dealing with issues too. It seems like Pack knows what girls deal with constantly and writes in a way that shows this. She doesn’t shy away from hard topics, which is crucial in our current political climate.

This book ehad some really cool style elements too. The girls write zines and share them with their friends. Pack shows different versions of the zines after most chapters. She also does a great job of fitting in descriptions of the style, which is important in a nineties punk scene. Readers interested in that kind of (???) aesthetic will be blown away by Grrrls on the Side.

This text lost some points because while it addresses important issues, Tabitha is 15 and 16 when she ends up in relationships with 18 and 19-year-olds. Some issues are also brought up and do not feel sufficiently dealt with. The book has received criticism for this, but it’s a strong place to start for feminist-based young adult literature.


If homophobia, body image issues, sexual assault or racism are triggers for you, be wary of this text. It does deal with these issues, but some chapters and scenes may be difficult to get through.