sharply imagined debut...Sloss writes with assured grace, capturing the conflicted sensibilities of a generation of women.
O, the Oprah Magazine
Every female friendship has a script of its own. The one playing out in this debut novel is a gripping hybrid—Beaches crossed with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
At its heart, the novel is a tragic elegy to spirited women in decades past who were forced to silence their dreams and desires, and whose lives were not what they might otherwise have been.
A smooth first-person narrative about two best friends who come of age in 1960s Pasadena marks Sloss's layered debut novel. Alex is beautiful, theatrical, and comes from wealth. Introspective, secretive, and brainy narrator Rebecca lives "house-poor" with her earnest father and beautiful, thrifty mother, who wants her daughter to have what she lost during the Depression. Once inseparable, the friends strike out on different paths at their college and a total break occurs after junior year. The incident, involving lies, alcohol, and some bad judgment, changes Rebecca's relationship with her parents as well. Stifled by early '60s sexism, she grows passive, marrying Paul, a genial, patrician New York lawyer. Despite achieving her mother's goals, her marriage is a sham and her small life revolves around her two sons and the letters she writes to Alex but never sends. Home for her mother's funeral, Rebecca reconnects with her one-time best friend, but she begins to see the insignificance of her life. Here the narrative accelerates as it builds toward the chaotic dénouement. The story's hopeful end is tempered with the realization that, had the central characters been born a generation later, maybe their lives would have been better.
Mary is a serious lawyer, married with two kids, whose husband is a perennial mama's boy incapable of grocery shopping on his own. Mixed in with the trials and tribulations of the protagonists are humorous vignettes from the lives of some of their other friends and acquaintances—many of whom
Captivating, engrossing, surprising… Sloss’ debut novel sweeps across the tumultuous events of the late 1950s through the 1980s and… celebrates the terrible struggle to find one’s identity as it elegiacally rues the necessary losses.
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