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An episodic clone of The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, tracing the journey of a woman (named Katherine Taylor) from adolescence to adulthood.

Katherine’s mother is ill-suited to her prosaic middle-class existence in Fresno. Between bouts of depression, she thinks to send her two youngest children to a tony East Coast prep school, while the oldest, Richard, stays at home dealing with an anger management problem. Precocious Katherine is a consummate drifter who seems to latch onto various people and situations, starting at boarding school with Page, a wealthy, pubescent cocaine addict who introduces Katherine to New York via visits to her grandmother’s Park Avenue apartment. Eventually, Katherine sees through Page’s veneer and befriends Clarissa, slightly lower on the socialite ladder, but perhaps more in tune with reality. Taylor skips over Katherine’s college years, focusing instead on her aimless, 20-something New York existence, where her next crutch becomes her younger brother, Ethan, now a gay aspiring actor who takes up residence in her rent-stabilized Upper East Side apartment. The two try to block out their increasingly dysfunctional family life back in Fresno (Richard does a stint in jail while their mother obsessively builds a vacation house on Lake Michigan) while drifting through jobs and relationships. Men take Katherine even farther from her roots, to London and then to Rome, but she continues to find herself feeling homeless, or at least homesick, and after she breaks off an engagement, she and Ethan resettle in a place they once thought unlikely: Los Angeles, a mere three hours from the Fresno they left so long ago. Taylor relays Katherine’s life in jolting spurts, making it difficult to emotionally commit to her, as well as to the characters that drift in and out of her life.

Melissa Bank did it better.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-25271-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2007