Girls of a Certain Age

Maria Adelmann. Little, Brown, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-45081-2
Adelmann’s uneven debut collection focuses on young women facing difficult choices to varying degrees of impact. In “Elegy,” one of the most powerful pieces, a young woman who’s just had a double mastectomy reflects on the death of her aunt from breast cancer, and the near death of her mother as well. In “First Aid,” the narrator details her self-harm, referring to her cuts as gills “because they help me breathe.” In “Pets Are for Rich Kids,” a young girl contrasts her own life and relative poverty with that of a wealthy friend while also trying to understand why her father abandoned her. Less successful are stories about 20-somethings, whether searching for meaning after a job layoff (“None of These Will Bring Disaster”) or having relationship troubles (“Middlemen” and “Human Bonding”), though a standout among these is the lyrical and whimsical “Unattached,” in which a young woman suddenly finds herself and her world turned literally upside down. While some stories could have been left on the cutting room floor, Adelmann offers an abundance of insights on the vicissitudes of life. Agent: Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Union Literary. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/02/2020
Release date: 02/16/2021
Genre: Fiction
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