cover image Pizza Girl

Pizza Girl

Jean Kyoung Frazier. Doubleday, , $27 ISBN 978-0-385-54572-3

In Frazier’s playful and unflinching debut, a pregnant 18-year-old pizza delivery driver dreams of a new life. The unnamed narrator, overwhelmed by anxiety about her pregnancy and her family, wants out of the house she grew up in, where she lives with her mother and her boyfriend, Billy, in suburban L.A. Enter Jenny Hauser, a 39-year-old stay-at-home mother who orders a large with pepperoni and pickles for her fussy son. From the moment Jenny opens her door, the narrator nurses a dream of escaping with her (“I wanted to take her hand and invite her to come with me whenever I ran away”). The narrator comes to befriend Jenny and learns she is unhappy in her marriage; thinking of how her dead father abused her mother, she assumes Jenny is abused as well. At home, the narrator turns cold toward Billy and her mother, and embraces her isolation the way her deceased abusive father once did, by turning to alcohol. Her frequent intoxication colors her view of her relationship with Jenny, whom she manages to kiss once and makes a valiant but dangerous and unnecessary effort to rescue. Frazier’s characters are raw and her dialogue startlingly observant (“The environment can suck a dick—I’m driving my F-150 to work again,” one regular tells her). This infectious evocation of a young woman’s slackerdom will appeal to fans of Halle Butler and Ottessa Moshfegh, and will make it difficult not to root for the troubled and spirited pizza girl. (Jun.)