Three teen girls come of age during the late 1970s, experiencing and reacting to a culture of threatening misogyny.
Isabel describes the white threesome’s friendship in relationship to their Long Island seashore hometown, noting their shared understanding that the three are not “supposed to be here. They all know it, and that’s why they get each other; that’s why they’re friends.” Readers may find this puzzling, because the town has charming features, making the friends’ daydreams of leaving initially seem like teenage wanderlust. But soon readers see all three subjected to groping at a doughnut shop and physically threatened by men in an alley, and one is brutally date raped. The misogyny continues as Isabel realizes her boyfriend’s expectations of sex: “She is supposed to resist. He is supposed to have to force her.” Ruth observes her mother’s series of abusive boyfriends and understands the open secret that her father is likely a married man in town, a fact for which only her mother seems to receive condemnation. When Magda’s father physically attacks her in public even the witnessing police officers refuse to acknowledge it. The girls’ resulting feelings of powerlessness and simmering anger occasionally erupt in ways that can’t be condoned but that clearly stem from the daily injustices forced upon them.
Darkly thought-provoking reflections on modern gender politics. (Historical fiction. 14-adult)