Sunday, January 31, 2021

Nine coming-of-age stories about girls who do bad things

Alison Wisdom's new novel We Can Only Save Ourselves "follows the disappearance and radicalization of one 'perfect' teenage girl, told from the perspective of the town she left behind."

At Electric Lit, Wisdom tagged nine pieces of literature that explore the dark side of girlhood, including:
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

No one writes about the psyches and complexities of teenage girls like Megan Abbott; this entire list could have been comprised solely of her fantastic novels. But I could only pick one, and as a mother who has logged many hours watching her gymnast daughter work out, I had to go with this one: Katie Knox and her husband Eric have made their daughter Devon, an exceptionally talented gymnast, the center of their world—everything revolves around Devon’s training and their shared Olympic dreams. Devon herself is steely, icy, wholly apart from her peers in the gym and at school; she is untouchable, and, as Katie learns, unknowable. When a member of their gymnastics community is found dead, everyone is shocked, but Katie watches Devon absorb the event with a cool detachment, and Katie worries about what that means about Devon and about herself as a parent. As the book unfolds, we see how Devon’s ambition, which serves her so well in the gym, is its own kind of darkness, and her parents must confront their own complicity in that. Like [Celeste Ng's] Everything I Never Told You, You Will Know Me explores the horrifying reality that all children remain, to a certain degree, strangers to their parents.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue