PAULINA & FRAN by Rachel B. Glaser

PAULINA & FRAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Poet and short story writer Glaser's (MOODS, 2013, etc.) debut novel tells the story of a passionate friendship between two art students.

In their small New England college town, Paulina's and Fran's lives are a whirlwind of art critiques, seduction, gossip, thrift shopping, and dance parties. Paulina, an imposing narcissist, claims talented but meek Fran as the only acceptable company when her crush no-shows for the art department trip to Norway. After bonding with Paulina in museums, hotel rooms, and on the streets of Oslo, Fran and Paulina spend "so much time together without getting sick of each other, it was inspiring." The unlikely pair's matching curly hair seems to be all they have in common. When they return to campus, the new friendship between them shakes up all their relationships, romantic and otherwise, but Paulina's affected detachment is tested when her ex, Julian, takes up with Fran. That betrayal ends the women's friendship but not their intense feelings for each other. They coexist on campus, always thinking of each other. Throughout the book, humor comes from vivid characterization, cutting dialogue, and absurd inner monologues. Paulina intones a mantra, "I love myself I love myself I love myself," to build her confidence and cuts friends down with verbal swords: "You sound like a malfunctioning hair dryer." Initially, the intensely insular world of art school relationships feels too small to drive a novel, but Glaser widens the scope to show her characters navigating the ebb and flow of friendship as they grow into adulthood.

A rare novel that focuses its attention on the difficulties of repairing adult friendships, with a fun setting and a bold cast of characters to lighten the mood.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-237734-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2015




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