We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

In Sister Safety Pin, blue-haired narrator Melany decides that she’s a lesbian and a feminist, so she tries to fit the stereotypical part by listening to Holly Near. “I played it at 78 rpm and tried to pogo to it,” she says. “It just didn’t work. I landed with a dispirited thud and let my arms swing limply at my sides….I had made a tactical mistake.” It’s not easy for a punk to come out of the closet, author Lorrie Sprecher suggests in this novel, whose confessional voice speaks to high-school- and college-age women uncertain of their sexuality. Sprecher, who teaches English at Montgomery College, began writing Sister Safety Pin as a university student, and when she finished, she sent a draft to Firebrand Books in Ithaca, N.Y. Firebrand’s editors sent it back with suggestions, and after a lot of revisions, Sister Safety Pin appeared as a paperback. Sprecher insists that the novel is nonautobiographical (“I will fall into a voice, and then that’ll be the voice for the book”), but she and Melany do share similarities. Both are Californians who attended Maryland grad schools (Sprecher earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland at College Park); both are lesbians who follow the “punk’s not dead” credo. “There’s still a lot of really great punk around,” Sprecher asserts, and says that she wrote about X- Ray Spex, 999, and the Clash “in the hope that people would go out and listen to it.” Even if the Pretenders’ salad days have passed and “tartan bondage trousers with drainpipe legs” have lost their allure, Sister Safety Pin serves as a credible and candid time capsule.