Not Quite Perfect

Jane King, Author
Jane King, Author Galhattan Press $12.95 (249p) ISBN 978-0-9640300-1-5
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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King tries and fails to capture the loneliness, boredom and lack of power of adolescence in this pedestrian debut. In short vignettes, she describes the life of June Smith, from her first day of freshman year to the end of her sophomore term, at a Catholic boarding school outside Monterey, Calif. This is a school for wealthy girls with names like Hearst and Weyerhauser, making June, the daughter of a prominent Santa Cruz physician, one of the relatively poor attendees at Santa Catalina. Ruled by restrictive dress and behavior codes, the girls spend their time dieting, raiding the kitchen and purging, as well as cutting class, sneaking off campus and sun-bathing in the nude. (From 1969 to 1972, the years the novel covers, the girls are remarkably drug free and innocent of sex.) They attend dances and beach cookouts arranged by the nuns and participate in a student government that gives the students no power beyond the power to chose who's in and who's out. These events are narrated in prose so spare it's nearly empty, and in scenes so short and disconnected they rarely gain momentum. The sheer number of characters who are introduced but not developed render them as one-dimensional as name tags at a freshman mixer. At best, this reads like a diary, sometimes witty but more often boring. (Feb.)
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