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My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman
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Jun 30, 08

Read in June, 2008

Fiction. It's 1978 and this is the story of sixteen-year-old Frederica Hatch, her liberal parents, and the all-girls college where they teach social sciences and live in a dorm as houseparents. It's a good story. Frederica's parents treat her as an equal, dissect their every reaction for its sociological and psychological underpinnings, and generally behave like sheltered intellectuals who believe every problem can be solved through reasoned discourse. They're pretty adorable. As the story progresses, they start to encounter things that even they can't talk through and promptly lose their shit, making them even more adorable, and human. On the other hand, Frederica's pretty boring and my only real complaint with the book. She's the narrator and mostly she narrates. She never felt like a fully realized character; she'd have occasional flashes of personality, especially toward the end, but mostly she's a mouthpiece for the story. It never felt like her story. Like, we were told she played sports, but we never saw her play sports or heard how she felt about them. It could have just as easily been third person omniscient rather than first person Frederica.

Three and a half stars rounded up to four for a story with a real sense of place and time, but a less than rounded narrator.
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