... a lot like [Teagan and Sara's] songs: complexly intimate, smartly crafted, and packing a subtle emotional wallop ... The idea to cut the narrative off just before their career began to take off is refreshing in itself, allowing them to hone in on the kind of personal day-to-day detail most books of this kind seem to roll through merely as a means of setting up the biographical roots of an artist’s rock star myth ... The depictions of aimless, vaguely dangerous, teenage partying (of which they did quite a lot) are especially well-rendered, like something out of a Hold Steady song ... explosively detailed depictions of their earliest experiences trying to find girlfriends are worthy of an excellent YA novel, thanks to Tegan or Sara’s unsparingly real, matter-of-fact prose style ... What emerges is a quietly heroic rock and roll origin story.
[Readers] should find plenty of solace in High School ... A sort of anti-yearbook, it’s not likely to make anyone nostalgic for their teen years ... The Quins are skilled writers with an eye for detail ... Both women deftly capture the messy complexities of being twins ... By the book’s end, the reader is nearly as eager to leave high school as they are. This is not a knock. They write so viscerally about the mundaneness and despair and occasional highs, chemical and otherwise, of being a teen that it revived, for me, some long-buried memories I had hoped to leave behind forever ... High School has the immediacy and intimacy of a diary, but it also suffers from the stream-of-consciousness verbosity of the form: a litany of drugs, crushes on girls, raucous parties at the pot-smoke-clouded house of an older dude named Rick. And while the book adeptly captures the searing pain of being a teenager, the sisters don’t offer any insight as adults.
... charming ... articulates the appeal of returning to the adolescent days of anyone’s past, let alone a pair of brilliant songwriters who also happen to be twins ... the Quin sisters so unabashedly evoke the spirit of that time in their writing that it’s hard to not be won over by the intensity of their recollections. This is what makes High School work: It’s an autobiographical work that nimbly recreates that bygone era and conveys their feelings and experiences in a universally relatable way. Even as their lives delve into the culturally and personally specific elements, the honesty in their writing makes it accessible and heartfelt even if your own high school experience was quite different. Much as in their music, the Quins have a way of cutting through platitudes with an incisive combination of bluntness and raw-nerve intimacy ... It’s helpful that the book makes sure to list at the top of the page who’s responsible for the current chapter, because with their largely interchangeable styles of plain, unadorned writing and heart-on-sleeve tone, it can be easy to forget who’s telling what story ... Were it not clearly labeled as memoir, it would be easy to mistake this for a YA coming-of-age novel about twin girls, abetted by the narrative conceit of the rotating point of view ... Still, the fun of the book comes not from their facility with music and the promise of explosive success on the horizon, but rather the ways in which their all-too-common histories of family drama, romantic woes, and angsty worldview mirror that of so many others ... wends an empathetic tale of queer identity through its endearing memories of youthful wanderlust and teenage artists finding their musical voice together as sisters. Looked at in excerpts, the prose rarely achieves any kind of notable grace that would make it stand out from the pack of YA dramas about teens, but just as on record, Tegan and Sara use conventional strictures and intensely personal emotion to create something special. Like that Smashing Pumpkins record, their memoir can make even cynical adults feel less alone.
... music makes up only a fraction of the book. High School mostly devotes itself to familiar milestones: first kisses and first hickeys, secret crushes and high-stakes sleepovers, wild house parties and wilder sibling fights, a mom finding a bag of pot and a friend finding stashed love letters. While Tegan and Sara are hilarious in their onstage banter, on the page their anecdotes read as spooky, solemn obstacle-running. A melancholy tone runs throughout. Queerness complicates what otherwise might seem like just hijinks.
Though the interchange of memory is a fascinating concept, the book is strongest when it focuses on its two central themes: sexual identity and the discovery of music ... This inspiring memoir will appeal to readers, especially fans of the duo.
...moody ... They heartbreakingly recall the girls they fell for and the discomfort that came with hiding their romantic relationships from critical adults ... This quiet memoir—which includes family photos—will appeal to fans interested in the duo’s formative years.