Pipkin’s debut leads readers on a journey through grief to hope again.
Genesis is a high school senior on the cusp of her 18th birthday in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City. At the open readers find her in the immediate aftermath of an abortion, left alone in Manhattan by her boyfriend, Peter. Classmate Rose and cousin Delilah form the primary emotional support system for Genesis as she grapples with the compounding losses in her life. First, her father’s death, then her inconsolable mother, lost to grief, once-close friendships, and finally the baby and the first love who helped make it. Nevertheless, Peter’s abandonment becomes a fulcrum on which Genesis’ life turns, compelling her to identify her own values and dreams. Despite several trips, falls, and unwise decisions on the way, the payoff is ultimately hopeful. Chapters of first-person stream-of-consciousness narrative are interspersed with short scenes written as a play that flash back to the events leading up to that moment alone in a clinic in the city. At times this narrative style begins to feel narcissistic, as other characters’ motivations are not revealed until the final moments. Ethnic identities of the characters are never explicit, and it would be easy to picture them with any number of combinations, though the overall impression is of predominant whiteness.
Although Gen may be hard for readers to connect to, her story is interesting enough they may well stick with her anyway. (Fiction. 14-18)