cover image Stir-Fry


Emma Donoghue. HarperCollins Publishers, $20 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017109-4

Donoghue's wry and tender debut tackles the interconnected themes of coming-out and coming-of-age. Strong-willed, shy and filled with vague feminist sentiments, 17-year-old Maria has left her small town to begin college--and what she hopes will be a thrilling life replete with romance--in contemporary Dublin. Seeking an inexpensive place to live, she responds to a notecard tacked on the bulletin board in the Students' Union and meets her future roommates, Jael and Ruth, two ``Mature Students'' in their 20s, occupants of a shabby but cozy Georgian flat. Though unworldly Maria does not at first grasp that the two are lovers, it doesn't take her long to realize that swaggering Jael and earnest, sweet-natured Ruth are just the sort of friends she has always longed for. As she comes to grips with her new friends' relationship, Maria gradually unearths the truth about her own sexuality. Eschewing dogma and offering no pat answers, this intimate, highly readable tale ends on a hopeful, love-affirming note as Maria makes a choice that is at once surprising, inevitable and very right for her. Described with wicked, hilarious accuracy, campus life (from women's-group meetings to boozy theatrical shindigs) provides a vivid backdrop to Maria's inner searchings. Author tour. (May)