Astrid Sees All

Natalie Standiford. Atria, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-982153-67-0
Standiford (The Secret Tree) makes her adult fiction debut with an infectious if overwrought tale of obsessive friendship and identity set in the gritty Lower East Side of 1980s New York City. Phoebe Hayes moves to the Upper West Side to be near Carmen Dietz, a girl from her college whose cavalier attitude and cosmopolitan sensibility instantly captivates Baltimore-bred Phoebe. Phoebe becomes enmeshed in Carmen’s life, and they move downtown to be near the nightclub scene. After Phoebe’s father dies of leukemia, she takes a job at the hip club Plutonium as a fortune-teller named Astrid, and her life revolves around partying with Carmen. But then young women from the neighborhood begin to go missing and Phoebe feels like she’s being followed. Carmen’s approval is crucial to Phoebe, though after Phoebe hooks up with Carmen’s artist boyfriend, their friendship fractures. A bizarre plot turn will leave readers scratching their heads, and stilted metaphors don’t help (“My immune system was fighting off an infection of grief”), but Standiford evokes the setting with spot-on details, including cameos by John F. Kennedy Jr. and Andy Warhol, and she does a good job developing the friendship between the two women. Unfortunately, the missteps undermine Phoebe and Carmen’s engaging dynamics. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/13/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-2044-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-2046-1
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-1-9821-5365-6
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