cover image Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale

Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale

Gigi Levangie. Penguin/Blue Rider, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-399-16673-0

Levangie (The Starter Wife) takes a slight detour in her darkly funny new novel; she continues to lampoon the wealthy, powerful, and superficial, but her POV this time belongs to a 14-year-old Latina, Perry Gonzales, who has a scholarship to a posh private school and who babysits other students. The book unfolds through a series of essays—one for each of the seven deadly sins—written by Perry to the admissions committee at Bennington College about the teens and families she encounters. The essays are inventive and clever, and for each sin there is a macabre consequence. In “Wrath,” a firstborn son responds to his twin sisters with such destructive anger that Perry is hired to “guard” the girls so their mother may nap. The spoiled girl in “Lust” experiences such longing for the singing Judas Brothers that she stages not only a hunger strike, but also a shopping and breathing strike in an effort to secure a private concert. In “Pride,” a father’s unrelenting demand for perfection from his son, the school’s star athlete, provides the moral. The ending comes with a twist that in some ways takes all the fun out of Perry’s essays, but gives voice to her hardworking mother, presented throughout the book as wonderfully wise, wry, and maternal. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, William Morris Entertainment (Oct.)