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More gut-wrenching stories about the awkward, hurtful lives of girls from transgressive storyteller Bomer (Nine Months, 2012, etc.).

Her new collection is so similar to her last one (Baby, 2010) that it’s easy to see where Bomer’s stories come from. These are tales that bear bitter fruit, extracting from early adulthood the pains that scars come from. The title story is representative, tracking the sad arc of an obese teen who passes from having sex with strangers at the skating rink through an abortion-riddled marriage before collapsing into anorexia. She could also be the narrator of the first story, “Eye Socket Girls,” bemoaning her treatment in a hospital ward: “Sure, the IVs fatten us up for a while, but then we go home,” she says. “Then we resume life as we know it. Life is a battle of will. And we’re winners.” They are so similar, the girls in these nine stories—screwed-up and immature and very real. The stories are set in and around Massachusetts and seem to take place primarily in the heavy metal wasteland of the '80s, where kegs and skunk weed and bad sex proliferate. It’s an atmosphere that lends Bomer’s female protagonists an interesting reversal—they’re just as full of lust and bewilderment and bad choices as the boys they orbit, but their self-awareness lends an ache that escapes many writers in this subgenre. Just when you think it’s too nasty, there’s a spark that strikes home, like the invisible girl in “Pussies”: “Yes, this was before I knew that, when I thought I mattered, when I thought that people saw me, deep into me, saw all my love and excitement at being alive, saw the very glistening, running-overness of my aliveness,” she writes. “But we only matter when we do something awful. Then, someone sees us and only then.”

Bitter little pills about the world through the eyes of disillusioned girls.

Pub Date: May 13th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61695-309-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2014


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