A depressed 30-year-old advertising copywriter packs up her New York life and heads west in this debut novel.
Chronically bored and suddenly single (her long-time boyfriend has met someone new), Jane realizes she’s got to make a change before unhappiness pulls her under. Looking for any kind of sign, she seizes on a magazine article that lists Salt Lake City as a great place to live, packs up her wagon train of trouble and drives to Utah, hoping that the state’s sheer scenic beauty and unfamiliar ways will help her heal. Once settled, Jane finds work answering the phones for an escort service owned by Mohammed, one of the few non-Mormons in town. Jane’s duties include screening prospective clients and, for those new to the service, offering instruction as to what is permitted by local law. Can do: Kiss, cuddle, caress, tease, strip; can’t do: sex, hand jobs, blow jobs, massages. Initially, Jane worries about her coworkers, a collection of young local girls, none of whom have ever been outside their home state. Jane encourages the youngest of them, Nikyla, to go to school. And the girls talk Jane into giving escorting a try. With little concern for her own safety or well-being, Jane befriends a risk-taking young woman with a growing cocaine habit, a troubled Mormon man who loves Jane but not the work she does and a frequent caller to the escort service who has a little more in mind than a strip-tease act. When Jane crosses the line between escort and prostitute, she wonders what could be next. Meadows displays strong narrative technique as she brings the disjointed culture of Mormon-ruled Salt Lake City and a group of 20-something Latter Day Sinners into high relief. But Jane’s spiral into the abyss is too controlled to suggest that her well-being is ever seriously at risk.
Still, a writer to watch.