cover image You Are Here

You Are Here

Karin Lin-Greenberg. Counterpoint, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-64009-543-4

Lin-Greenberg’s exceptional debut novel (after the collection Vanished) explores a complex web of relationships at a fading mall in Albany, N.Y. Among the people drawn together by the mall are Tina Huang, the last remaining stylist at a struggling hair salon, and Ro Goodson, an 89-year-old white woman who is Tina’s only regular customer, and who Tina believes comes in because she’s lonely. Ro takes a dim view of her Black neighbor Joan for moving into Ro’s predominantly white neighborhood years earlier. Ro also doesn’t think much of Joan’s daughter, Gwen, an adjunct professor, or Gwen’s white husband, Kevin, manager of the mall’s bookstore, both of whom live in a tiny house on Joan’s property. Maria, a high school senior who hopes to become a professional actor, dons a chicken outfit for her food court job and is upset when she doesn’t get a lead part in her school’s production of West Side Story. The other characters are past worrying their dreams won’t come true; Tina secretly yearns to be an illustrator of children’s books but “knows it’s not a practical thing to pursue,” while Ro plants a lemon tree that she knows won’t bear fruit until after she’s gone. After establishing a quirky tone, the novel’s third act reaches a grand scale as an active shooter prowls the mall, though the real drama rests in the characters’ reckoning with the limits of what is possible. This is a remarkable study of ordinary people’s extraordinary inner lives. Agent: Kathy Schneider, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (May)