cover image Body Grammar

Body Grammar

Jules Ohman. Vintage, $17 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-46669-8

A young queer woman muddles through romantic relationships and grief while finding success as a model in this perceptive if flat debut. Lou, reeling from witnessing her friend Catherine’s sister drown, postpones enrolling in the University of Oregon and sets aside her photography hobby. Instead, she follows up with one of the many requests she’s had to work as a model, and leaves Portland for New York City. Ivy, her crush, decides to stay behind in Oregon to focus on her music. Unable to confess her feelings to Ivy, Lou cuts off contact despite encouragement from mutual friends to open up. As a model, Lou feels awkward and uncertain, but soon finds her footing and gets over her heartache over Ivy. Not even a tumble during a Chanel show in Paris slows her career ascent, though she’s overwhelmed by paparazzi attention after she starts dating another model. Lou reconsiders modeling, frets about Ivy and Catherine (who struggles with substance use), and begins assisting a photographer as she lurches toward maturity. Ohman captures the uncertainties of early adulthood and queer love with a clear eye, but the thin plot and constrained emotion hinder the impact. Ohman is a talented writer, but this one doesn’t quite work. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writers House. (June)