9780060088804 / 006008880X

Lucky Girls: Stories


Publisher:Harper Perennial



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About the book:

Nell Freudenberger knows from lucky girls. She has had a lot of luck herself in her short writing career: Her debut story was featured in The New Yorker, with a glossy full-color author photo alongside; a quick book contract ensued, on the strength of that one published story; and now comes a debut collection full of stories that are actually good. The Lucky Girls collected here are far-flung Americans, young women trying to figure out where they belong in the world. In "The Tutor," teenage Julia and her businessman father are living in Bombay; her mother has returned to the United States. Julia crams for the SATs with her tutor Zubin, smokes cigarettes, and goes to nightclubs; her father hovers at home. Freudenberger gets just right the moments when Julia and her father find themselves alone together, trying to be a family: "It was just the two of them at the table then; even with the leaves taken out and stored against the wall in the coat closet, they had to half-stand in order to pass the soup." Too, she knows the upper-class world of which she writes. In "The Orphan," Mandy's parents and brother come to visit her in Thailand, where she is working with "AIDS babies." Mandy's brother Josh appears, and Freudenberger skewers his type, neatly, in a sentence: "Josh looks like someone coming out of trench warfare in the Balkans, rather than college in Maine." But Freudenberger isn't telling easy rich-kid stories. She's forever pushing her narration. In "The Tutor," we hear from Zubin, an overeducated Indian, as well as from Julia. "The Orphan," in turn, is told by Mandy's mom, a woman bewildered by yet proud of her daughter's choice to remain in Thailand. Freudenberger's stories are cosmopolitan, expansive, and richly detailed, a beguiling combination of qualities. --Claire Dederer

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