cover image The Flood Girls

The Flood Girls

Richard Fifield. S&S/Gallery, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4767-9738-0

In Fifield’s excellent fiction debut, alcoholic Rachel Flood returns to her hometown of Quinn, Mont. (pop. 956), after a nine-year self-imposed exile, coming back to atone for her teenage behavior—out-of-control fighting, drinking, and promiscuous sex. Her mother, Laverna Flood, is the hard-boiled, vulgar owner of the Dirty Shame, a bar where mixed drinks are too much trouble to make and fistfights are encouraged. Rachel and Laverna haven’t spoken since she left. Rachel’s unexpected appearance is not welcome, but she is determined to complete Alcoholics Anonymous’s 12-step program, to make amends and redeem herself. Fifield has created a colorful, quirky, and amusing cast of small-town characters. Rachel’s best friend and protector is Jake, her next-door neighbor, a sensitive and worldly 12-year-old, who is also a snappy dresser and likes to do laundry. Barflies Red Mabel and Black Mabel and gas station cashier Martha Man Hands also become friends, but only after Rachel is forced to play on her mother’s wacky and winless softball team, the Flood Girls. This hilarious and profane story takes a tragic turn at the end, revealing just how fragile love and friendship can be. Agent: Jenny Bent, the Bent Agency. (Feb.)