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In Zanesvilleby Jo Ann Beard
Synopses & Reviews
The fourteen-year-old narrator of IN ZANESVILLE is a late bloomer. She flies under the radar-a sidekick, a marching band dropout, a disastrous babysitter, the kind of girl whose Eureka moment is the discovery that "fudge" can't be said with an English accent. Luckily, she has a best friend with whom she shares the everyday adventures of a 1970s American girlhood, incidents through which a world is revealed, and character is forged.
In time, their friendship is tested--by their families' claims on them, by a clique of popular girls who stumble upon them, and by the first, startling, subversive intimations of womanhood.
With dry wit and piercing observation, Jo Ann Beard shows us that in the seemingly quiet streets of America's innumerable Zanesvilles is a world of wonders, and that within the souls of the overlooked often burns something radiant.
"Thirteen years after Beard's acclaimed essay collection, Boys of My Youth, she brings readers this smashing coming-of-age story. It's the 1970s and the novel's unnamed 14-year-old narrator is beginning high school after a summer spent in close company with her best friend, Felicia, as the two babysit an unruly set of six kids — the novel opens with one of the kids setting their house on fire. With freshman year comes realizations that many adolescent girls have faced, some overwhelming, some slight, but all spot-on: marching band is for dorks, boys are confusing, and even the tightest of friendships can fracture when popularity is at stake. Underlying this teenager's turmoil are problems in the grown-up world, such as her father's alcoholism, her mother's abiding unhappiness, and the death of a friend's mother — all things she tries to ignore, but which occasionally boil to the surface. Beard is a faultless chronicler of the young and hopeful; readers couldn't ask for a better guide for a trip through the wilds of adolescence. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jo Ann Beard is the author of a collection of autobiographical essays, The Boys of My Youth. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Best American Essays, and other magazines and anthologies. She received a Whiting Foundation Award and nonfiction fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
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