Hammerslough, the publisher of Brown Barn Books, debuts with a story told through the journal entries and narratives of sisters Peggy and Janice Rubinson, opening in smalltown Indiana in 1944. At age 11, Peggy is chubby, awkward, and desperate for praise from her gruff father. Sixteen-year-old Janice is the flawless homecoming queen who plays nice, but is falling apart emotionally under the demands of her mother and country club society. "It's getting harder and harder to keep the lovely Janice together," she writes. After Janice is raped, she goes away to college, but quickly moves to New York City (to her family's horror); once there she discovers that the rape has left her pregnant, changes her name, finds work as a model, and tries to become a truer version of herself. The novel is initially structured as Peggy's diary entries, interrupted by Janice's commentary as she reads it; the second half alternates between the sisters' first-person perspectives. This coming-of-age tale is a slow accumulation of details, both in Peggy's overlong descriptions of family life and Janice's moving but melodramatic search for self. Ages 14-up. (Nov.)
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Brown Barn Books
November 15, 2010
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