cover image The Divorce Girl: A Story of Art and Soul

The Divorce Girl: A Story of Art and Soul

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. Ice Cube (Ingram, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (378p) ISBN 978-1-88-816066-6

Kansas Poet Laureate Mirriam-Goldberg (The Sky Begins at Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body) successfully leaps into the fiction world with her debut novel, a moving coming-of-age story 14 years in the making. At 15 years old, New Jerseyan Deborah Shapiro knows about divorce, yet this budding photographer's conception of how it should play out quickly dissolves when her bellicose father announces he will remain in the house after her parents' split. Since a photography class assignment to shoot "whatever is most wrong in your life" coincides with the domestic break-up, Deborah documents every nuance of her increasingly bizarre life, including the violent fights between her parents; a flea market where her father and his new girlfriend, Fatima, sell cheap plus-size clothing; and her father's subsequent marriage to Fatima. As Deborah unsuccessfully seeks a mother figure to help her endure her father's regular verbal and physical abuses, she finds support from a kindly rabbi, a Jewish youth group, and her photography classmates. Documenting her life through a camera's lens helps to lessen the pain of her circumstances, as well as propel her down the track toward a career in photography. Deborah's story unfolds slowly, but the pacing showcases an insecure yet resilient teenager who ultimately emerges as a strong, compassionate adult. (July)