Women apparently looking for love turn out to want much more—or something.
Newcomer Glatt makes a valiant try to parse the reasons for her characters’ behaving foolishly, but she doesn’t come up with much more than the usual mental anguish of troubled love and misdirected lives. Although the tale portrays a few different women, the bulk of its energy goes to Rachel Spark, a 30-year-old college instructor and poet recently moved back in with her mother, who’s being treated for breast cancer. Rachel has a thing for taking random new lovers back to the apartment in order to placate the growing despair she feels over her mother’s condition. The root of her problem apparently stems from the “first wrong boy” she slept with at age 13, after which “something inside me hardened . . . a girl becomes a comma like that, with wrong boy after wrong boy; she becomes a pause, something quick before the real thing.” Other players include Ella, who works at the clinic where Rachel goes for an abortion after a one-night stand and who’s worried about losing her boyfriend to a co-worker; Georgia, a teenager who’s a chronic clinic visitor, smart in most ways but quite stupid when it comes to boys; and Angela, a mousy friend of Rachel’s who seems as bored with her as the author does. Taken by themselves, most of these women’s lives could be the material of good short fiction. Georgia, in particular, is fiery and purposeful, with an unapologetic edge and a grudge against pretty much everybody, but it’s not clear what purpose she serves here. Glatt’s interweaving of people and plots can sometimes hit a mark, mostly in allowing us to see her people from the inside and out, and she has a good feel for how one’s insecurities translate into risky behavior. But the whole thing skids off the road long before coming to any sort of conclusion.
Heartfelt but poorly built.