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Alana S. Portero

Bad Habit

Bad Habit

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"I saw a whole generation of boys fall like irredeemable angels."

Told in the heartrending voice of a girl trapped within the body of a boy, Bad Habit is a story of coming-of-age in working class Madrid–in a godforsaken neighborhood ironically named after a saint. Alana S. Portero's spunky protagonist struggles to make sense of herself and the world she inhabits, conveying her surroundings with mythic allusions and a poetic vitality absent from everyday life.

Set against the heroin epidemic that ravaged Madrid in the 1980s and the city’s vibrant party scene that dominated its nightlife in the 1990s, Bad Habit follows Portero’s unnamed protagonist as she grows up in a blue-collar suburb that has no place for her. Forging ahead, she discovers community and kinship in downtown Madrid, amid a lively party scene animated by junkies, pop divas, and fallen angels. But with each step she takes forward, she finds herself confronted by a violence she does not yet know how to counter; in this exciting, often terrifying, world each choice can truly be a matter of life and death.

Blistering and compassionate, Bad Habit illuminates the ties between gender and class, the search for identity, and the power of sisterhood. Shimmering in its lyrical beauty, vivid in its realism, autobiographical in its detail, it is a mesmerizing story of self-realization that speaks to the outsider in all of us.

Translated from the Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem

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