Auden has always known what her parents expect from her – older brother Hollis is wild and untamed, but Auden is reliable and well behaved, academically minded and somber, making no demands on her remarried father and presenting no competition for her flirtatious mother who holds soirees with her (male) undergraduates. When a confluence of events causes Auden to act spontaneously, she finds herself staying with her father, annoyingly buoyant stepmother Heidi, and baby half-sister Thisbe for the summer. In the process she learns more than she thought possible, about her parents, her brother and herself, and about an enigmatic and attractive local boy.
There’s something enchanting about Dressen’s writing – she beautifully captures the voice of adolescent girls and combines this with a relatable but fresh plot that incorporates coming of age with transformation through self-realisation. Auden manages, in the space of a few months, something that many of us never manage – being able to see her parents as individuals, separate from their parental roles, flawed and human, and in the process detach from a lifetime of feeling responsible for them.
I think I could find it easy to glut on Dressen’s work, and am therefore resisting the urge to immediately go out and borrow more novels until I need a lift from a morass of less engaging and uplifting work - Alex