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The Tracey Fragments

by Maureen Medved

The tortured teen in fiction is frequently depicted with a sense of mortification, romanticism, or exasperation. Few authors are brave enough to express that part of adolescence that harbours a violent and sexual energy, or accurate enough to make it count. With The Tracey Fragments, Vancouver-based playwright Maureen Medved makes a valiant effort.

Tracey Berkowitz is a 15-year-old runaway who hates her life, her parents, and herself. The only people she cherishes are her younger brother, Sonny, who has disappeared, and her quasi-boyfriend/tormentor, Billy Speed. Tracey sets out to search for Sonny and her sanity, and in the process, spills out her story. Tracey’s journey is propelled by anger and longing. In her defensive dreams she becomes “Estuary Palomino,” untouchable in a world where track-marked boys are romantic visions and sex is something more than the grotesque vibrations of desperate animals.

Medved has created a difficult character. Her fractured personality controls the narrative so when she speaks outside of herself – as “Estuary Palomino,” as “IT,” and as “the girl with no tits” – these fragments dissolve into each other.

Medved has carefully positioned Tracey’s standoff between fantasy and reality. Thankfully, the novel’s conclusion appears as an action that stems from the character rather than just a neat literary device. The much alluded to something that is the crux of Tracey’s crisis does not explode because truth has been bled bit by bit.

The hell of adolescence is a hard thing to depict without using humour as a buffer. The Tracey Fragments has a vengeful tone, which makes for an oppressive read. The language jerks all over in unsettling rants, chaotic flashbacks, and the hypnotizing streams of a spoilt girl’s love-talk. What remains and resonates, however, is the disturbed voice of youth.