Winner of the The Believer Book Award (2012)
On a mangy beach in Key West, sixteen-year-old Myra meets Elijah, a Tanzanian musician twice her age. Trapped on a Spring Break family vacation, Myra longs to lose her virginity to Elijah, and is shocked to learn he lives with Gayl, a secretive, violent woman with a strange power over him.
When Myra and her splitting-up family return home, she falls in with a pot-smoking anarchist crowd. But when Gayl and Elijah follow her north, she walks willingly into their world, engaging in more and more abject sexual games.
As Myra enters unfamiliar worlds of sex, porn, race and class, she explores territories unknown in herself. Maidenhead traverses the desperate, wild spaces of a teenage girl’s self-consciousness.