cover image So We Can Glow

So We Can Glow

Leesa Cross-Smith. Grand Central, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1533-8

Cross-Smith’s rich collection (after Whiskey & Ribbons) follows women exploring desire, desperation, and despair. The brief opener, “We, Moons,” an explosion of slam cadence (“We’re okay, our hearts, dusted with pink”), serves as a battle hymn of self-determination and sisterhood that thematically unites the subsequent narratives. “Teenage Dream Time Machine” unfolds as a texting conversation between two mothers worried about their young, wild daughters and remembering their own impetuous youth. In “Pink Bubblegum and Flowers,” a young woman crushes on one of the men rebuilding the deck on her parents’ house and navigates a tense scene of toxic masculinity. In “California, Keep Us,” a Kentucky couple, mourning the loss of their baby, retreats once a month for a weekend in California to assume different identities with one another and resolve not to “talk about death.” The delightfully idiosyncratic prose (“She felt guilty about lusting over Clint. It was lazy, like cold French fries”) distinguishes each of the narrator’s points of view within common themes of love, friendship, sex, and loyalty. These stories showcase the wide range of Cross-Smith’s talent. Agent: Kerry D’Agostino, Curtis Brown. (Mar.)