Among other things, I’ve taken up smoking

Aoibheann Sweeney

There’s something strangely straightforward and matter-of-fact about this story of a girl who grows up on an island in Maine and then takes an internship in New York where she experiences her “sexual awakening” (as a back-cover quote describes it). In many books there are moments that feel vaguely out of context for either the character or the progression of the storyline, but this book seems to be a string of such events.

The protagonist Miranda lives a very sheltered life and when she does start to break out of it, she approaches everything with an odd, blasé manner. I can’t even it see it as an effective, detached Mainer attitude. It just feels unbelievable, though the story itself has a lot of potential as almost memoir-style fiction. Or maybe it’s just, as this review in the Washington Post describes it, a “post-gay” novel where a girl can come out, and it’s no big whoop.

The story is also fraught with strange continuity awkwardness. Like describing the characters in a van taking the exit off the highway when they were never placed on the highway. I found myself stopping to skim back a few times, feeling like I must have missed a paragraph somewhere. Wait, there’s a fish tank? Why are they going to look at a fish tank?

I’m not totally sure about the title either, it doesn’t seem to fit into Miranda’s voice or the context of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The four section titles refer to his description of the four ages of the world’s development, each one bringing more problems and grief to mankind. The metaphor doesn’t even fit.

I guess that’s what weirds me out about it all. Miranda is a teenager without a hint of angst.