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From the Bookshelf: "Neon Angel" by Cherie Currie

November 11, 2010 - Amy Phelps
I remember hearing the song "Cherry Bomb" by the Runaways on a movie soundtrack and loving it, finding out later that The Runaways was rocker Joan Jett's first band. I didn't realize at the time that Joan Jett wasn't the lead singer in the original lineup of the band, and the person singing the song was Cherie Currie. When the movie "The Runaways" was first previewed, with Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and the lovely Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, I was immediately intrigued by the person Fanning was portraying - a young blonde teenager strutting around the stage in lingerie and looking like she'd beat up anyone who got in her path. After seeing the movie and seeing that it was based on Currie's memoir, "Neon Angel: A Memoir of A Runaway" I immediately looked it up. Currie's story is one that you might expect from a typical rock and roll biography - a story of sex, drugs and rock and roll. But there's also the story of the verbal abuses spewed forth from the Runaway's band manager Kim Fowley, the poverty they lived in even as they performed in massive venues to screaming fans, and the terrible pressure put on, when it all comes down to it, very young girls who didn't know any better. Currie's love of her band, dysfunctional family though they were, comes through in the book, even with the tough-as-nails Lita Ford. And Currie's love of her family, also dysfunctional as they were, is ultimately what made her leave the group. Though she tried a solo career and acting, by that time, her drug abuse had gotten to her. There were also several dark times in Currie's life other than the drugs. She faced horrific abuse at the hands of two different men at her young age. Yet Currie somehow managed to make it through both of these terrible ordeals, and to overcome her own drug abuse, eventually becoming a drug counselor for teenagers herself. She also became a fitness trainer and now is a prominent chainsaw artist. Currie's story of her life as the "Cherry Bomb" is a hard one, but she seems incredibly honest about it, the mistakes she has made, and the reader comes away with the impression that she is a tough survivor. The movie and the book are in a lot of ways different, but also similiar, and both left me still liking the band and Currie. "Neon Angel" is published by HarperCollins. It is $24.99 and is 348 pages long.


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