Teenage Wasteland provides memorable portraits of "rock and roll kids" and shrewd analyses of their interests in heavy metal music and Satanism. A powerful indictment of the often manipulative media coverage of youth crises and so-called alternative programs designed to help "troubled" teens, Teenage Wasteland draws new conclusions and presents solid reasons to admire the resilience of suburbia's dead end kids.
"A powerful book."—Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times Book Review
"[Gaines] sheds light on a poorly understood world and raises compelling questions about what society might do to help this alienated group of young people."—Ann Grimes, Washington Post Book World
"There is no comparable study of teenage suburban culture . . . and very few ethnographic inquiries written with anything like Gaines's native gusto or her luminous eye for detail."—Andrew Ross, Transition
"An outstanding case study. . . . Gaines shows how teens engage in cultural production and how such social agency is affected by economic transformations and institutional interventions."—Richard Lachman, Contemporary Sociology
"The best book on contemporary youth culture."—Rolling Stone
The author, a freelance journalist working on a story about four teenagers in northern New Jersey who, in 1987, killed themselves in a suicide pact, gained entry into the world of the so-called ``burnouts'' of Bergenfield. Gaines, a former social worker and a devotee of rock music, began hanging out with local kids whose lives were much like those of the teenage suicides. Her reflections on the primacy of death in the culture of these nomads in a middle-class society are expressed in an earthy, colloquial style that marks the author's empathy with alienated youth. This is a hard-hitting, disturbing report urging adults to ``renew our social contract with young people.'' (May)