Winner of the The Believer Book Award (2012) Shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award (2013)
Myra, naive and curious, is on a family vacation to the southernmost tip of Florida - a mangy Key West full of Spring Breakers. Here, suffering through the embarrassments of a family on the verge of splitting up, she meets Elijah, a charismatic Tanzanian musician who seduces her at the edge of the tourist zone. Myra longs to lose her virginity to Elijah, and is shocked to learn he lives with Gayl, a secretive and violent woman with a strange power over him. Myra and her family return to an unnamed, middle-class, grey Canadian city and she falls in with a pot-smoking, intellectual anarchist crowd. When Gayl and Elijah travel north and infiltrate Myra's life, she walks willingly into their world: Myra continues to experiment sexually with Elijah, while Gayl plays an integral part in the increasingly abject games. Maidenhead traverses the desperate, wild spaces of a teenage girl's self-consciousness. How does a girl feel scared? What is she scared of? And how does telling yourself not to be scared really work? As Myra enters worlds unfamiliar of sex, porn, race and class, she explores territories unknown in herself.