Disturbing. Erotic. Compelling. Sythetic Bi Product may be one of the best books I have read in a long while. Sparrow L. Patterson tells a disquieting story that is so sad and yet powerful, all you can do is turn pages and turn pages. You never know where you will wind up as Patterson skillfully leads you along a winding, often frightening, literary road. The main character, Orleigh, is nothing like your average teenager, or at least as a parent, you hope she is not. However, looking back on my own teen days I wonder just how many steps away from being in situations like Orleigh's I might have been. And yet, it is hard not to love this young lady and feel for her and just want to reach out and hold her close and protect her from a pathetic society.
Orleigh is a confused teenager. She experiments with drugs. She is sexually active. She thinks she might be in love with her best friend Heather. When an estranged mother commits Heather to a psychiatric hospital, Orleigh plans to set her free. Together they wind up living in a house with a rowdy bunch of jobless, drug using people. Realizing Heather is a selfish tease, Orleigh finds she is attracted to Mark. He is a tender young man, physically abused by his father, attracted to Orleigh and likes to wear makeup like the lead singer of the alternative band The Cure.
Reflecting, Orleigh remembers her first relationship with a woman. A commune accepted her. They lived as one, a community orgy. Like happy presence united, they did not approve of dating outside the group. Orleigh did not approve of the rules. They even ask her to have their baby.
Trying to get Mark away from dealing, Orleigh and he set off on the road. They live in the car. They make money anyway they can. They survive. They survive until they return home and Mark has not changed, until Mark does something stupid.
Synthetic Bi Products is all over the place in tight concise poetic narrative. It is a novel full of lively imagery and dialog. The sex is constant, unsettling, sensual-all at once. It is a difficult book to describe in a few paragraphs without giving the surprises of the book away. It is a book I read fast. It is a book I will never forget. Patterson has some amazing story-telling talent. I eagerly look forward to her next novel.
--Phillip Tomasso III, author of Third Ring & Tenth House