I’d read a few charming reviews of this debut novel, which follows teenage narrator Emily Vidal as she deals with a neighborhood full of dysfunction in upscale Connecticut suburb. The novel opens with a 50th birthday party for Emily’s father. Emily has just learned that her parents are getting divorced and she seems to handle this shockingly well, but then she and her crush, Mark, see her father and Mark’s mother kissing at the party. The next day, Emily witnesses Mark’s ill father hang himself and Emily learns that her father has impregnated his mistress. Emily’s response to all of this is to strike up a sexual relationship with her English teacher.
I loved Espach’s writing style. Emily’s voice is snarky and entertaining, and Espach artfully bounces back and forth in time. This is all undone, however, by the unnecessary piling-on of Bad Shit Happening. It was over the top, ridiculously melodramatic in a bad teen soap kind of way, and that ultimately killed my desire to want to know what happened to Emily. I gave up about halfway through, and skimming some of the other reviews, it sounds like I'm not missing a whole lot.