Hot Little Hands

Abigail Ulman. Random/Spiegel & Grau, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8129-8917-5
The protagonists in Ulman's debut story collection, all in their teens and 20s, feel intensely real. Set in Melbourne, Australia; San Francisco; New York; and Vladivostok, Russia, these stories explore the complexities of ambition, the intricacies of relationships, and, perhaps most of all, the distance between expectations and reality. In the opening story, "Jewish History," a young girl in Melbourne attempts to fit in with her classmates by sharing the story of her family's emigration from Russia. In "Chagall's Wife," a student seeks her science teacher's attention outside the classroom. With compelling honesty and humor, "The Withdrawal Method" introduces Claire, a Ph.D. student in San Francisco, as she deals with an unwanted pregnancy. And "Warm-Ups," one of the most arresting stories in the collection, depicts a young Russian gymnastics student who travels to California with the hope of gaining international recognition. The stories have a cumulative effect: themes of friendship, infatuation, self-discovery, and disillusionment intensify with each subsequent tale. Though some stories are more powerful than others, all the captivating women in this collection leave a lasting impression. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/23/2016
Release date: 05/31/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-241-97490-2
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-8129-8918-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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