A lifetime of wandering gradually leads a woman to greater happiness, as revealed in this debut memoir.
Costantino, the daughter of immigrants, didn’t have a happy childhood. Tensions ran high at home, and “the girl” (as the author refers to herself throughout) grew from a shy, anxious child into a highly sensitive adult. Despite the author’s professional accomplishments, her inability to “escape the fear of being just one” led her to move to a big city. A romance with a “broken boy” turned sour and ultimately abusive. Recognizing the need for a major change, she fled to her parents’ home country, then to another new city, where she threw herself into her work. After burning out in her job, she quit to go globe-trotting, and then returned to “the city with all the right kind of energy for her.” But despite Costantino’s searching, nothing filled the hole in her soul, and bad relationships with both lovers and friends were a continual source of stress and sadness. She attempted to distract herself from her personal struggles by giving her all to her career, working herself to the bone for ungrateful employers. The author relates all these events in the most general terms. Characters are typically referred to as “girl,” “boy,” or “friend” and the cities and countries she visits and resides in are vaguely described but never named, both of which give the book a distant, fairy-tale quality. Even her career, which dominates her life, is never explicitly identified, although she appears to work in a high-pressure field, such as media or advertising. This literary technique effectively keeps the focus on her emotional state. However, it’s also confusing at times, as it’s often nearly impossible to tell people apart; the style would have been better suited to an essay than a book-length memoir. Yet Costantino’s emotional honesty is refreshing, and her slow, awkward journey toward greater happiness reflects that life’s problems are rarely solved in an instant.
An odd but often satisfying story, told in an unusual voice.