It s the early 2000s. Lauren is fifteen, soft-spoken, and ashamed of her body. She s a devout member of an evangelical church, but when her Bible-thumping parents forbid Lauren to bring evolution textbooks home, she opts to study at her schoolmate Mariah s house. Mariah has dial-up internet, an absentee mom, and a Wiccan altar the perfect setting for a study session and sleepover to remember. That evening, Mariah gives Lauren a makeover and the two melt into each other, in what becomes Lauren s first queer encounter. Afterward, a potent blend of Christian guilt and internalised homophobia causes Lauren to question the experience. Author Jessica Campbell (XTC69) uses frankness and dark humour to articulate Lauren’s burgeoning crisis of faith and sexuality. She captures teenage antics and banter with astute comedic style, simultaneously skewering bullies, a culture of slut-shaming, and the devastating impact of religious zealotry. Rave is an instant classic, a coming-of-age story about the secret spaces young women create and the wider social structures that fail them.
Praise for XTC69: Singular, honest, and hilarious. The Comics Beat. In Jessica Campbell s scathing take on gender dynamics, a trio of gender-fluid space explorers return to a futuristic Earth . . . Campbell skewers contemporary misogyny in these pages, but also praises the strength and perseverance of women and non-binary individuals. The AV Club
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