Charming. Candid. Compelling. All of these words describe Beth Ditto—and all of them equally sum up her new memoir. Chronicling Ditto’s rise to international fame, the book starts with her humble beginnings in her conservative, tiny Arkansas hometown. While struggling to survive amidst crippling poverty, young Ditto endures sexual abuse early at the hands of a family friend, and learns that this has been the norm for many of her family members. Her escape from the pain is music; she finds a posse of friends who share her love of the burgeoning riot grrrl and grunge scenes, openly declares herself fat-positive, and sings in her first band. When her friends head to Olympia, WA, Ditto follows. She meets the special lady who becomes her first girlfriend, and, just for fun, forms a soul-infused punk band—called Gossip. Carrie Brownstein sees them perform at a house party and asks them to open for Sleater-Kinney on tour, and from there on out, it’s a rollercoaster ride to the top.
Fans of Ditto will adore the just-us-gals tone of her book, which is chock full of fun facts (her fave movie is A League Of Their Own) and juicy music scene observations (she gets scolded at a party by Tobi Vail for making a crack about Kurt Cobain). For those who aren’t in the know, her memoir offers a lot of amazing insight from a smart, savvy, young feminist icon whose crusading work for body positivity, equality, and women’s rights comes not from a college textbook, but from life.
Coal to Diamonds, $14.96, amazon.com
By Brandy Barber
This review appears in the Dec/Jan 2013 issue of BUST Magazine with cover girl Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Subscribe now.
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.