Autobiography of Us

Aria Beth Sloss, Author
Aria Beth Sloss. Holt, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9455-8
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A smooth first-person narrative about two best friends who come of age in 1960s Pasadena marks Sloss's layered debut novel. Alex is beautiful, theatrical, and comes from wealth. Introspective, secretive, and brainy narrator Rebecca lives "house-poor" with her earnest father and beautiful, thrifty mother, who wants her daughter to have what she lost during the Depression. Once inseparable, the friends strike out on different paths at their college and a total break occurs after junior year. The incident, involving lies, alcohol, and some bad judgment, changes Rebecca's relationship with her parents as well. Stifled by early '60s sexism, she grows passive, marrying Paul, a genial, patrician New York lawyer. Despite achieving her mother's goals, her marriage is a sham and her small life revolves around her two sons and the letters she writes to Alex but never sends. Home for her mother's funeral, Rebecca reconnects with her one-time best friend, but she begins to see the insignificance of her life. Here the narrative accelerates as it builds toward the chaotic dénouement. The story's hopeful end is tempered with the realization that, had the central characters been born a generation later, maybe their lives would have been better. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Feb.)
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