Jessica Bell never meant to be a rebel. But growing up with two gothic rockers as parents seemed to make it inevitable.
In 1980s Australia, Erika Bach and Demetri Vlass founded Ape the Cry and Hard Candy, two of Melbourne’s iconic indie bands. They encouraged Jessica with unreserved love to pick up the guitar and write her own songs. But Erika’s back problem became a nightmare of pill popping, alcohol abuse, and anxiety attacks. Demetri retreated into silence for fear of triggering Erika’s drug-induced psychosis. And Jessica turned inwards, to her own reflection.
But her mirror self was a fiend, not a friend. All it took was one secret drink at fifteen, and Jessica dove headlong into depression and self-destruction to escape the madness at home.
Experimenting with bisexuality in a high school rife with bullies? Not a problem; she had alcohol. Losing her virginity to rape? Not a problem; she had alcohol. Trying to supplement absent love with unprotected one-night stands? Not a problem; she had alcohol …
Until one day alcohol nearly drove Jessica off a cliff.
Jessica had to look at herself honestly and frankly. Why did she keep running from reality, and more importantly … herself?
My Review of Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel
I’m going to start by saying I don’t normally read biographies, but the description for this made me want to give it a go. Jessica Bell has lived a rock n’ roll lifestyle, her parents were in a gothic rock band in the 80’s and early 90’s, she grew up around musicians and started bands herself. Well, this sounded far more interesting than the usual celebrity self-absorbed childhood stories!
I found it difficult to get into, picking it up and putting it down a few times before I really got going with it. Jessica’s early years are interesting but described with a bit too much introspection for my liking.
It’s when Jessica is a teenager in the 90’s that I started to really connect with this. I’m a 90’s teenager myself so it was a little bit like going back in time, with the bands that she talks about, and the feeling of being an outcast at her high school. I also started to see why the events from her younger self are important, and how they had effected her personality and the way she deals with things.
Jessica is unflinchingly honest as she unpicks the decisions that she made that lead her on a self-destructive path, and also kinda hard on herself too. She has done a lot with her life, as I was reading about her in the 90’s I thought we were of the same generation, I guessed Jessica was a few years older than me. Actually, she’s a bit younger but far more mature than I was at the same age. I think Jessica as a teenager was probably more mature than I am even now!
By the end of the book, I was 100% sucked in and racing through the pages as Jessica starts to find a way to forgive herself for the things she has done, and accept herself as she is, flaws and all. Jessica Bells’s voice is unique and compelling, and her life story (so far) is interesting and well told.
Recommended if you like biographies, you like rock n’ roll stories, or you were (or still are) a 90’s riot girl.
I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.