Debut collection follows from girlhood to adulthood the interconnected lives of a group of women.
Lucy thinks about her dead fiancé as she helps her mother pick out a wedding dress. Jenna kisses at a high-school party a boy who won’t be her boyfriend. Over tea, Laura and Gabrielle list all the horrible things that can happen to children. Men—mostly in the form of lovers and fathers—make appearances, but the primary concern here is women and their overlapping lives. The characters who populate these narratives are bound to each other by friendship, family and happenstance, but their interpersonal intersections ultimately serve more as an ineffectual gimmick than a truly unifying force. Franklin (Liner Notes, 2003) never quite allows these tales to coalesce as a novel-in-stories, but the stories don’t work on their own, either. They can be divided into those in which something happens, and those in which nothing much happens, and neither type is especially successful. In the former, the dramatic incident—Heather reveals that she was raped by her stepbrother, Andrea asks Gabrielle for money for an abortion—is tacked on toward the end, with the subtlety of a soap-opera cliffhanger. The latter are just plain boring. The author’s dispassionate, slightly disengaged tone echoes—rather than complements—her mundane subject matter. The result is too flaccid to be engaging, and the occasional stab at poetry or philosophy tends to fall flat.
Fits neatly into, but never transcends, the subset of popular fiction consumed by women who love to read about, above all, themselves.