Twenty-seven hours isn’t long to do much of anything, but it’s just enough time to plow through Screaming Away, the surprisingly gripping rock autobiography by Charlie Hanks. As an individual who mucked through the underground scene beginning in the late ’90s, Hanks establishes blue-collar credibility, earning every stripe she dons today. Add the ups and downs that come with being a DIY band to the fact that her personal life was also a hard-fought road to happiness, and it’s hard not take a position in her corner. The growth and independence Hanks was essentially forced to develop through life circumstance detail a history that is neither perfect nor simple – yet, she made it to a life she loves, doing what makes her most fulfilled, the ultimate payoff in Screaming Away.
This isn’t the typical underdog story. It’s not full of heartwarming support for a misunderstood outcast. Rather, it’s a brutally honest tale that covers the tough grounds of abuse and heartbreak. Her description of the awkwardness of youth is so on the money it draws tears and smiles, sometimes simultaneously. It’s this simple and commendable honesty that draws the reader into her bubble; her writing in these areas shines, the narrative begging what happens next. Predictions are constantly uprooted; I was continually caught by surprise as I turned the pages.
What makes Hanks endearing as a protagonist is her inability to accept no in the face of obstacles. She used stubborn refusal to fail as the vehicle to get her to the life she believed she deserved. Outside of the peaks and valleys she details, it’s the space in between that makes or breaks a person. In those moments Hanks barely hung on. Detailing it with opportune obscenities and punctuation errors – minor blemishes that show the work was clearly a product of her own hands – Screaming Away is a book filled with experiential life lessons and dedicated passion.
The metal scene is indisputably male-dominated, yet the presence of female leaders who have growling lows is rising. Hanks deservedly graces the stage today fronting .bipolar, but she worked her ass off to get there. Her life reminds readers of just how much can be accomplished when tenacity yields fruit; Charlie Hanks is a self-proclaimed tenacious badass, and, after reading her journey in Screaming Away, I can’t help but agree.