THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING by Melissa Bank

THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A smart, ruefully funny chronicle of a modern young woman’s search for love. When we meet Jane Rosenal, she’s a wisecracking 14-year-old whose sassy wit keeps the world at bay but also gets the attention of her affectionate yet slightly distant parents. First-novelist Bank creates a dead-on teenage voice from her opening lines, making protagonist Jane both mildly obnoxious and appealingly vulnerable as she relates her efforts to decipher what went wrong between her older brother, Henry, and his upper-crust girlfriend, Julia. In subsequent chapters, the author skillfully allows Jane’s narration to evolve as the young girl struggles toward maturity and Mr. Right. When she gets an entry-level job in publishing and becomes involved with a much older editor, Archie Knox, Bank’s insightfully nuanced portrait shows Archie helping Jane grow professionally—particularly by guiding her through the treacherous office currents created by a boss subtly determined to keep her down—while keeping a firm upper hand emotionally. When her father reveals he has leukemia, the reserve between parent and child is breached, and the support Jane finds enables her to leave Archie. The final segment wickedly spoofs The Rules and other manipulative man-hunting guides as Jane nearly scares off her Prince Charming by behaving in ways completely alien to her open, candid nature; the satire wears thin after a time, but the finale’s warmth all but makes up for it. The novel takes the currently fashionable form of freestanding chapters that read like short stories that just happen to be about the same character. Two of them—a first-person vignette by someone other than Jane; an odd second-person account of breast cancer and an excessively devoted boyfriend—don—t really fit in, but otherwise Bank’s debut is a model of well-crafted narrative building to a thoughtful, hopeful conclusion. Bank has created a delightful heroine who deserves her happy ending—even though any reader who has really been paying attention to the sharp, unsentimental details knows that all happy endings are provisional. (First serial to Cosmopolitan & Zoetrope; Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection; author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-670-88300-X
Page count: 274pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999




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