The giveaway is now closed.
This feeling of resigned disappointment, a kind of contained disgust, was present throughout the rest of my life in almost all of my human relationships. Always, people were turning out to be a bit less than they could have been, a bit more what you had uncharitably expected. Even I was less than I hoped I would be, and it was Lorrie Ann, in large part, who made me aware of this…
Mia, our narrator, and her best friend Lorrie Ann grow up in Corona del Mar, a hamlet in California. We meet the pair of them as Mia asks Lorrie Ann to break her toe in order to get out of a softball championship game. The real reason Mia can’t play is because she’s having an abortion.
In a way, Lorrie Ann made me everything I am, for my personality took shape as an equal and opposite reaction to who she was, just as, I am sure, her personality formed as a result of mine…For me, my friend Lorrie Ann was the good one, and I was the bad one…And yet it was not me but Lorrie Ann whom the vultures of bad luck kept on visiting, darkening the yard of her house, tapping on the panes of her windows with their musty, blood-crusted beaks. “Wake up, little girl!” they cried! “We’ve got something else for you!”
Lorrie Ann’s problems begin when a drunk driver kills her father. As Mia begins to mature and achieves the grades to leave and study classics at Yale, Lorrie Ann finds herself pregnant. She marries the father, Jim, and this is where the events that will blot her adult life begin in earnest.
As the book progresses, we follow Mia and Lorrie Ann’s lives as their decisions and the consequences of those decisions take them further away from each other, both geographically and emotionally.
The Girls from Corona del Mar covers a range of significant themes: the American health care system, war, drugs, motherhood and the treatment of women in contemporary society. (There’s a fantastic few lines where Mia reflects on Lorrie Ann’s treatment when she gives birth in the hospital:
And it’s true: everyone ignores a woman in labor.
This was just the way babies got born.
This was just the way women were hung, like meat, from hooks upon the wall.)
But this is also a novel about creation; Mia creates the version of Lorrie Ann that she presents to us, this is also true of the other characters (Mia’s mother’s particularly worthy of note here) and of Mia herself. After Yale, Mia goes on to translate ‘the full Inanna cycle, a series of ancient songs that tell the story of the Sumerian goddess Inanna’, suggesting to us that Mia’s more than competent at telling a story in a way that makes people want to read it. That what she has to say is translated through her thoughts and feelings and that the versions of herself and Lorrie Ann we are privy to are the versions Mia wants us to have.
The Girls from Corona del Mar has a compelling voice and a cracking story, both of which keep you turning the pages. It’s also multi-layered, tackling big themes and ideas without hindering the story. My only complaint would be that I found the pacing slightly uneven but this is a minor issue in a debut that crackles and leaves you wanting to discuss it further.
Thanks to the lovely people at Hutchinson Books, I have a copy of The Girls from Corona del Mar one of you to win. To win, simply leave a comment below before 5pm (UK time), Sunday 14th September. The winner will be chosen at random and notified soon after the closing time. International entries welcome.
Thanks to Hutchinson for the review copy and the prize.
Edit: Giveaway Winner
I’ve allocated everyone a number in order of entry:
1 – madamebibliophile
2 – hastanton
3 – Katie
4 – Anne Coates
5 – Claire
6 – Elena
7 – Kylie Grant
8 – Ametista
And the random number generator says:
Congratulations, Elena. The book’s on its way to you. Thanks to everyone else for entering.