In this debut collection, Canadian women and girls experience the world—from Quebec to New York City to Arizona to Guatemala and beyond—and get a little wiser for it.
There’s the protagonist of “Waiting for the Cyclone” who rides the famous Coney Island roller coaster with the lover she’s soon to leave. In “Malad,” a family with an addict mother moves south, into the home of an addict aunt. A woman wakes up with a man who is not her husband while on vacation and attempts to piece together the previous night in “Libertad,” so named for the tattoo on her one-night stand’s torso. In “Proverbs,” a student attempts to escape her cheating boyfriend and memories of rape by working on an organic farm far from both. The subjects of “Conflict Zone” navigate dark feelings when a flight to Turkey is cancelled on Christmas Eve. Returning to Mexico for the story “One Last Time,” a woman journeys to mourn for a woman she’s never met and finds a whirlwind romance with another. In “Monterrico,” exes travel to South America together when one is forced to prove she is not a “spoilsport.” When she takes an old friend to the dentist, in “Gone to Seed,” a woman is confronted with the life she could have had, had she not rejected a romantic proposition years earlier. These are sisters in transition. Dean attempts to give examples of audacious women who deviate from their expected responsibility of kindness and inherent goodness. While her intention is noble, the outcome is unrefined. Deserving neither of admiration nor sympathy, these women are unformed. The issue is not their likability (or unlikability as the case may be) but their indistinction: each is so similarly confused and thwarted that even when the stories differ, the protagonists blur together, giving the impression that this is just one story of one girl—the author, perhaps?—in variously unsatisfying scenes or stages of life.
Stories of exciting escapades whose protagonists fall flat.