It's kind of impossible for me to give this a fair review. I bought this book about four years ago, when I lived in Ohio. I read the first chapter and set the book aside. Something about the narrative style irked me, but I couldn't quite figure out what it was. I always intended to give the book a second chance, though, because I thought the premise sounded so interesting. I picked the book up again because, in an attempt to save money, I've been raiding my shelves for books I haven't gotten around to reading. I forgot that this book was set primarily in Philadelphia.
I moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia for graduate school three years ago, and I've stayed here simply because I have a well-paying job here and not somewhere else. There are A LOT of things that I strongly dislike a lot about the culture and personality of this area, and the narrative voice of this book embodies all of it. I know it's irrational, but it's comparable to how a friend starts to get on your nerves just a little, then it steamrolls until everything she does makes you murderous with rage.
There are some other issues aside from my petty dislike of the heavy Philadelphia tone of the writing. I had a hard time trying to sort out the plot because Bajo did little to help guide the reader between past and present, real-life and Irma's writing. Even the inconsistent use of quotation marks made it difficult. I felt there was an intriguing mystery underneath, but it was just too hard to follow.