Saturday, July 19

The Big Girls – Susanna Moore

Louise is the psychiatrist as Sloatsburg women’s prison. New to the role, newly divorced and sharing custody of her eight-year-old son with ex-husband Raphael, who lives on the West coast, New Yorker Louise is trying to fit in at the jail.
Helen is serving a life sentence for a terrible crime, but is it really a crime if she was doing the Lord’s will? After a long time in protective segregation, and a lot of work with Dr Louise, Helen’s about to be moved into the general population. She feels an affinity with a rising movie star, Angie, who she hopes will write back to her.
Despite her lawyer’s advice, ingénue Angie is sympathetic when an infamous prisoner writes to her. Hardly anyone knows who she is, but her lucky break will come at any time. In the meantime she’s in a happy relationship with Raphael, a hunky older guy.
As these three women’s narratives, along with Sloatsburg guard Ike Bradshaw, alternate, the interwoven tales slowly emerge. Very slowly. I was compelled to finish The Big Girls, but I don’t really know why. All the women are flawed, damaged and barely held together, and rather than feeling compassionate or involved I found to my surprise that I really didn’t care about any of them. Well, with the exception of mild irritation, but I don’t know that that counts as a connection. No surprises, no interesting plot twists (the connections seemed contrived rather than startling or provocative), and no real character development. When I finished reading The Big Girls I just though “so what.” World of eh. – Alex

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