What if the greatest love of your life were your best friend?
Since childhood, Rebecca Madden’s and Alexandra "Alex" Carrington’s lives have twined and twisted around each other’s, and the stories of their lives weave into a single autobiography. Told from Rebecca’s perspective, the tale fairly seeps with desire for the missing half, just as Rebecca yearns for Alex whenever she leaves. And she does leave. Despite her patrician mother’s reservations, Alex abandons Rebecca the summer before college to attend a theater arts camp. Letters come less and less often, leaving Rebecca to mourn until her suddenly very chic friend arrives to whisk both of them off to college. Alex promptly disappears again, keeping late hours and drifting into a glamorous world of drama, men, drinks and cigarettes. Although Rebecca tries to keep her moral compass as straight as her parents shaped it, she, too, has secrets. Dreaming of a career in medicine, Rebecca sneaks out of the dorm early and comes home late, hiding her studies from everyone who would point out the near impossibility of a woman becoming a doctor then. Yet again and again, Rebecca and Alex come together, drawn to each other like magnets. An early-summer wedding party brings catastrophe, however, when Rebecca finds Alex’s date, the enigmatic, charismatic Bertrand Lowell, impossible to ignore. The evening sets in motion a betrayal deep enough to send Rebecca and Alex careening wildly off their courses. Sloss’ debut novel sweeps across the tumultuous events of the late 1950s through the 1980s, navigating the characters through the fear of race riots, the loss of friends to the conflict in Vietnam and the battle for women’s rights.
Captivating, engrossing, surprising—the autobiography of Rebecca and Alex celebrates the terrible struggle to find one’s identity as it elegiacally rues the necessary losses.