by Nerissa Martin
Tracy Leonard has had more jobs in PR than she cares to remember and now her CV is littered with half-truths and outright lies. Is another position in PR really what she wants? Or is her alter-ego, Gemini, going to finally get her way? After weeks of trying, high-end brothel, Rosado House, finally has an opening so armed with the best wig she can afford, Gemini, steps through the door but can she really leave Tracy behind?
I thought Girl Tracy was a really powerful and insightful novel that crackles with intensity and intelligence. The narrative opens straight into an interview which is not going well for Tracy and slowly a couple of untruths are unmasked. For anyone that’s ever blagged on their CV, these pages are spot on in their toe-curling excruciation and contempt. At times, in the early chapters, there is a struggle to find voice and the prose is a touch fractured but there is a clear, underlying strength and once Ms Martin finds that vocal strength and pulls it to the fore, Girl Tracy is hard to put down.
The story taps into a concept almost as old as the profession at the heart of the novel and that concept is human dichotomy. The split personalities we have for varying reasons and assume; our working face, our home face or whatever we need to face with a different persona. Gemini is that uber-confident, game-face persona but, as the novel progresses, Tracy and Gemini begin to work together; Tracy grows in confidence despite what happens and Gemini takes a back seat knowing that both egos can now exist together and Tracy is strong enough to survive on her own wits. It’s a really believable character arc that is so skilfully done; the first-person perspective and unflinching internal monologuing really define both characters and meld them together and consequently, you cannot stop reading. Ms Martin’s writing is stark, literal and raw with a driving rhythm that ably complements the message of the book. You may not agree with some of Tracy/Gemini’s choices but you empathise with her, one hundred percent and you feel compassion for her. As much as Girl Tracy may be a commentary on sex workers in Toronto, personally, I found the book to be a commentary on a woman, finding her voice, finding her way without compromise and accepting the consequences of her decisions; decisions that ultimately cost her friendships and relationships. But, in spite of those losses, Tracy has a profound integrity that many of the characters that shun her, do not; and Gemini has realised that before Tracy does.
The setting and other girls in Rosado House are brilliantly and authentically portrayed; I thought all the characters were excellently drawn; they were not just caricatured ‘contractors’ but their depictions were given individual care and attention. The reader gets to know their personalities as we do with the clients until you feel as if you sitting in Rosado House. The situation with Mike and the subsequent YouTube video is blistering and to see Tracy grow from the ashes of the situation into a confident, self-assured woman is credit to both Gemini and Ms Martin’s writing.
Girl Tracy is a fierce, powerhouse novel that imparts an age-old message in a fresh, compelling way. Highly recommended.