cover image The Girls from Corona del Mar

The Girls from Corona del Mar

Rufi Thorpe. Knopf, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-35196-6

The divergent paths of two girls raised in a Southern California beach town plot the course for Thorpe’s affecting debut novel. Mia, who recounts the story of their friendship as an adult, had always cast herself as the “bad one” to Lorrie Ann’s “good one”: “She was beautiful... but I was sexy.... We were both smart, but Lorrie Ann was contemplative where I was wily, she earnest and I shrewd. Where she was sentimental, I became sarcastic.” Secrets like lost virginity and an abortion cemented their bond, but high school graduation sent the young women in opposite directions: Mia went to Yale, and on to Istanbul to study the Sumerian goddess Inanna; Lorrie Ann had a shotgun marriage, and then became a young Army widow, caring for her disabled son, eventually turning to drug addiction to cope with it all. When Lorrie Ann turns up barefoot on Mia’s doorstep in Istanbul, Mia hardly recognizes her; she can’t make sense of the way her seemingly flawless friend’s life has panned out. Thorpe unflinchingly examines the psychological tug-of-war between the friends, and delves in to the pro-choice debate and issues relating to medical malpractice to give the personal narrative heft. The result is a nuanced portrait of two women who are sisters in everything but name. 75,000-copy first printing. (July)