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Pizza Girl

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In the tradition of audacious and wryly funny novels like The Idiot and Convenience Store Woman comes the wildly original coming-of-age story of a pregnant pizza delivery girl who becomes obsessed with one of her customers.

Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl in suburban Los Angeles, our charmingly dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She's grieving the death of her father (who she has more in common with than she'd like to admit), avoiding her supportive mom and loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.

Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighborhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickled covered pizzas for her son's happiness. As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other towards middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.

Bold, tender, propulsive, and unexpected in countless ways, Jean Kyoung Frazier's Pizza Girl is a moving and funny portrait of a flawed, unforgettable young woman as she tries to find her place in the world.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published June 9, 2020

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About the author

Jean Kyoung Frazier

2 books420 followers
Lives in Los Angeles. Pizza Girl is her debut novel.

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5 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,438 reviews
Profile Image for Kat.
256 reviews78.7k followers
June 13, 2022
im gonna have to try pickles on pizza now
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,402 reviews8,124 followers
June 12, 2020
I loved the tender and messy emotions in Pizza Girl even as I wanted more from the book too. The novel follows an unnamed eighteen-year-old pregnant pizza girl, who feels suffocated by the care of her supportive mother and doting boyfriend and haunted by the death of her alcoholic father. Early in the novel she meets Jenny, a stay-at-home mother who orders pizza with pickles on it. Our protagonist develops an obsession with Jenny and wants everything to do with her. This infatuation spirals into some very unfortunate events that speak to our protagonist’s complicated and damaged heart.

I so appreciated how Jean Kyoung Frazier showed her protagonist’s more nuanced and uncomfortable emotions. The protagonist of Pizza Girl feels frustrated and annoyed with her mother and boyfriend even though they do their best to care for her. She cannot quite let go of how her father failed her and drinks alcohol, even while pregnant, to cope. Instead of delving into the root issues of what looks like perinatal depression, she develops a fantasy surrounding a stay-at-home mother she delivers a pizza to. Frazier constructs our protagonist in a way that her struggles feel so earnest and even relatable, though her experiences are quite unique – her longing for a different life, her inability to shake her past, and her questioning of herself and her place in the world all resonated.

I give this book three stars because I feel positively toward it though I felt it could have been further fleshed out. For example, Frazier does an excellent job portraying the ennui in our protagonist’s relationship with her boyfriend, but the development and/or unpacking of that relationship feels like it got cut short, like there is more we could have seen. I also wanted to know more about our protagonist and her mother’s relationship with whiteness and white supremacy; early in the book the protagonist reflects on her mother’s preoccupation with “Americanness,” which I read as code for whiteness, and I wanted to understand how that influenced their lives. I liked how Frazier wrote the protagonist’s journey with mourning her dad though, her poignant, nonlinear, and unwieldy journey of grief for a man who should have treated her and her mother so much better.

In some ways I hesitate to recommend this novel because it feels like a snapshot of something greater, yet I do think it may appeal to those who want a quick yet interesting read, especially those who find the synopsis intriguing. I feel curious about what Frazier will write next after this unconventional debut.
Profile Image for emma.
1,784 reviews42.9k followers
December 15, 2022
You know that recurrent realization that every single person you have ever seen in your life is a human being with a complex worldview and internal monologue, relationship dynamics and trials and tribulations and a favorite flavor of popsicle?

This is like if that realization were 200 pages long and funnier.

And made me want to eat pizza.

So very much up my alley.

Bottom line: People are great and so is pizza! This has evidence of both.
Profile Image for The Artisan Geek.
445 reviews7,232 followers
August 3, 2020
Did an interview with Jean back in January, so that one will hopefully be up sometime soon :)

WOW. I said it last year and I was right! This was so good oh my gosh! My first five star read of the year I'm so so happy! This was an amazing debut and I can't wait to see other people discover Jean Kyoung Frazier and her more than stellar writing this year! :)

This sounds sooo good!! WOW!

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,426 reviews12.7k followers
July 20, 2020
Pizza Girl is 18 years old, preggers and working at a pizza shop. Then she meets Jenny, a middle-aged mom with a son who will only eat pizza with pickles on. And so begins a strange friendship…

… yeah I didn’t like Jean Kyoung Frazier’s debut novel Pizza Girl. The blurb comparing it to Normal People makes me laugh - I don’t think the marketing team for this book read Sally Rooney’s novel because there is no similarity whatsoever, they just saw her sales figures and are trying to make that happen for this!

Almost nothing occurs in the book. Pizza Girl gets obsessed with Jenny for no real reason - I guess she finds out that she’s gay or bi-sexual at least? But that relationship doesn’t go anywhere, it’s never developed and little else happens. She ignores her loving boyfriend Billy (who really deserves better) and she’s generally depressed - her life isn’t going anywhere, she doesn’t know what she wants to do, she’s not ready to be a mother, and she’s still coming to terms with the death of her dad.

It’s just so boring to read and Frazier isn’t able to animate the material into something compelling. It’s also quite jarring right at the end when we find out the protagonist’s name - not because it’s unusual but because I didn’t even notice up to that point that I didn’t know her name. I hadn’t appreciated how important knowing a character’s name is - it’s the most basic connection you can have with them - and feels partly why I didn’t care about her or anything she was doing, besides Frazier’s inability to do this with her prose.

I’ll give her some credit though for several brief scenes in the final act between Pizza Girl, Billy, her mom, and her drunk dad that felt heartfelt and moving - that should’ve really been the novel; forget Jenny and all that tedious rubbish and focus on Pizza Girl coming to grips with her reality and figuring it out.

But it’s very little even for a short novel like this and doesn’t make it worth reading just for that. Pizza Girl is a very unimpressive, dreary and forgettable novel.
March 23, 2022
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“They could support a teenage pregnancy, but not this, not a person who drifted from one moment to the next without any idea about where she was headed.”

Sayaka Murata meets Ottessa Moshfegh in this freewheeling and darkly funny debut novel. Jean Kyoung Frazier's deadpan wit and playful cynicism give a subversive edge to what could otherwise seem like yet another tale of millennial ennui.

Pizza Girl is uncompromising in its portrayal of love, obsession, addiction, and depression. Our narrator and protagonist is a Korean-American pizza delivery girl who lives in suburban Los Angeles. She's eighteen years old, pregnant, and feels increasingly detached from her supportive mother and affable boyfriend. Unlike them, our narrator cannot reconcile herself with her pregnancy, and tries to avoid thinking about her future. As her alienation grows, she retreats further into herself and spends her waking hours in a perpetual state of numbing listlessness.

“Where am I going and how do I get there? What have I done and what will I continue to do? Will I ever wake up and look in the mirror and feel good about the person staring back at me?”

Her unfulfilling existence is interrupted by Jenny, a stay-at-home mother in her late thirties who orders pickled covered pizzas for her son. Our protagonist becomes enthralled by Jenny, perceiving her as both glamorous and deeply human. Pizza girl's desire for Jenny is all-consuming, and soon our narrator, under the illusion that Jenny too feels their 'connection', is hurtling down a path of self-destruction. Her reckless and erratic behaviour will unsettle both the reader and her loved ones. Yet, even at her lowest Frazier's narrator is never repelling. Her delusions, her anxieties, her world-weariness are rendered with clarity and empathy.

She feels simultaneously unseen and suffocated by the people in her life. While readers understand, to a certain extent, that her sluggish attitude and cruel words are borne out of painful frustration. Her unspoken misgivings (about who is she and what kind of future awaits her, about having a child and being a mother), her unease and guilt, her fear of resembling her now deceased alcoholic father, make her all the more desperate for a way out of her life. Unlike others Jenny seems unafraid to show her vulnerabilities, and there is a strange kinship between these two women.

“I’ll tell you what I wish someone told me when I was eighteen—it never goes away.”
“What is ‘it,’ exactly?”
“All of it, any of it, just it.”

While the world Frazier depicts seems at times incredibly pessimistic, the narrator's unerring, wry, and compelling voice never succumbs to her bleak circumstances.
Frazier's prose has this lively quality to it, one that makes Pizza Girl into an incredibly absorbing read. The feverish latter part of the story, in which others call into question our protagonist's state of mind, brought to mind Caroline O'Donoghue's novels (in particular Promising Young Women). Let it be said that things get confusing (and somewhat horrifying).

“Han was a sickness of the soul, an acceptance of having a life that would be filled with sorrow and resentment and knowing that deep down, despite this acceptance, despite cold and hard facts that proved life was long and full of undeserved miseries, “hope” was still a word that carried warmth and meaning. Despite themselves, Koreans were not believers, but feelers—they pictured the light at the end of the tunnel and fantasized about how lovely that first touch of sun would feel against their skin, about all they could do in wide-open spaces.”

Frazier's mumblecore-esque dialogues demonstrate her attentive ear for language. Speaking of language, I particularly liked pizza girl's assessment of ready replies like 'I'm okay' or 'I'm fine'.

“Fine,” a word you used when you stubbed your toe and people asked you if you were okay and you didn’t want to sound like a little bitch. When your mom gave you Cheerios after you asked for Froot Loops. Something you said to people who asked about your day and you didn’t know them well enough to give them a real answer. Never a word used when talking about anything of value.”

Pizza girl's disconnect—from others, reality, and herself—is vibrantly rendered. Her troubled relationship with her dysfunctional father hit particularly hard as I found her conflicting thoughts towards him (and the idea of resembling him) to echo my own experiences.

Similarly to Hilary Leichter and Hiromi Kawakami Frazier's surrealism is rooted in everyday life. Funny, moving, and unapologetic, Pizza Girl is a great debut novel. The narrator's fuck-ups will undoubtedly make you uncomfortable, but much of her harmful behaviour stems from self-loathing and it also points to other people's hypocritical attitudes towards those who are deemed 'troubled'.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
Profile Image for Amy.
220 reviews46 followers
June 25, 2020
I think I’m in the minority with this one but I’m surprised I managed to finish it, after wanting to DNF it so many times.

We have Pizza Girl, an unlikeable unnamed protagonist who develops an obsession with Jenny, a customer and wants everything to do with her. She is also pregnant, has a boyfriend and mother who are thrilled about the pregnancy while she feels differently.

The main thing for me was the lack of development in the characters and plot. Neither felt driven by that and I didn’t feel like I could emotionally connect with our main character or anyone around her. She was messy, made wrong choices and for me, totally underdeveloped. I thought I’d go into this finding her endearing and be rooting for her but in the end tbh, I just had enough of the book.

The writing was good but nah, this just wasn’t for me sadly and I’m disappointed as this was one of my most anticipated books of the summer.
Profile Image for David.
646 reviews293 followers
January 7, 2021
This is so punk rock. While I finish another Asian-American novel wrestling with notions of identity, navigating micro-aggressions and the weighty calculus of being a "model minority" I get to follow it up with this debut from queer Korean-American Jean Kyoung Frazier. Her Korean-American protagonist Pizza Girl is 18 and pregnant. She's not wringing her hands about what it means to be bi-racial and raise a child who will technically be more white than Korean, or worrying about how her dopey white boyfriend and her Korean mother will get along (great actually). Instead she's a bit on the brink and actively trying to blow up her own life. She's sneaking off to her dead father's shed in the middle of the night to drink beers and watch infomercials. She's working pizza delivery and has maybe developed a bit of a crush on a middle-aged suburban mom who requested pickles on her pizza to placate her 7-year old son. It's an L.A. slacker novel that happens to revolve around a queer Korean-American girl I didn't know I wanted. While other writers are thanking George Saunders and Uma Thurman, Frazier is shouting out Tallboy who tackled the California neon cover based on a pizza shirt he designed that she owns. Frazier's just out here living her best life and I'm here for it.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
470 reviews766 followers
December 23, 2022
The Year of Women--in which I'm devoting 2021 to reading female authors only--continues with Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier. Published in 2020, everything I can really say about this wonderfully droll debut is said on the cover, designed by Emily Mahon and illustrated by Chris Coulon. Most book covers would be more compelling covered with a brown paper bag. Not only is this one awesome, but along with the title, perfectly conveys the irreverent sensibilities of the novelist. A quick read, I grinned throughout and admired how Kyoung took familiar dramatic situations and made them specific to her generation.

The novel is the first person account of our eighteen-year-old narrator, whose name remains undisclosed until the climax. She recounts the summer of 2011 and her tenure as a delivery driver for Eddie's, a Los Angeles pizza joint. She's eleven weeks pregnant by her boyfriend Billy, a classmate orphaned during their senior year of high school. The young couple live with her doting Mom, a first generation immigrant from South Korea. Her recently deceased father was a charismatic but destitute alcoholic who left his heir little more than bad memories and a '99 Ford Festiva that she wheels around on her deliveries.

Trying to forget her past and avoid her future, her life gets exciting when she receives an impassioned call from a new customer requesting a large pepperoni-and-pickles pizza. The woman, Jenny Hauser, needs this for her son, who is adjusting none too well to Los Angeles or the local pizzerias. Something in the woman's manic desperation breaks through the ennui of our narrator. She not only purchases pickles and gets the special order made, but delivers it. Enamored by the contradictions she witnesses in Jenny as well as the attention the desperate housewife basks on her, she begins to fantasize about her new customer, who refers to her only as "Pizza Girl."

It was a blessing I didn't get into a car accident. I spent the rest of my shift in a daze. My hands and feet felt and behaved like bricks. I knocked over a stack of boxes and dropped a napkin dispenser I was trying to refill. As Darryl bent down to help me clean up, he asked me if I'd taken pulls from his Bacardi.

I mixed up orders. Drew Herold got Patty Johnston's Meat Lovers, extra bacon. Patty Johnston got Drew Herold's Very Veggie, no sauce. "You might as well just get a salad," she said, shaking her head, inspecting a mushroom between her fingers. She was nice, an older mom type who looked like she was used to dealing with youthful incompetence. She didn't mind having to wait while I drove back to retrieve her pizza, just told me to include garlic bread sticks for free next time she called in. Drew Herold was less nice, told me that meat was murder, he'd be calling Domino's in the future.

When I got back to the shop, I went to the bathroom and didn't notice the seat was up. There was toilet water on my pants as Peter yelled at me. Driving home, I missed the turn for my street three times. I kept getting distracted by lamppost lights--I saw Jenny standing underneath each one. She was still lovely, even under their harsh orange glow.

Pizza Girl buzzes along on an extra high voltage line with the the voice of its protagonist, an Asian American who was an average student, is pregnant at 18 and on her way to surpassing her late father as a drunk. Frazier recognizes how thin the line is between happiness and despair, success and failure, freedom and a minimum prison sentence. One decision makes or breaks a life. Sometimes, luck intervenes either way. I was caught up in following Pizza Girl to the end of her high wire act, to see whether she made it or split her head open. Frazier's prose is awesomely detailed. I felt like I'd delivered pizzas for the summer by the end.

A man with six chihuahuas in an unmoving row behind him, one with its tongue sticking out of its mouth. A woman in scrubs with a large stain on the pants that was either blood or coffee. Three girls with braces wearing their moms' clothing and heels, face masks, curlers in their hair, drying fingernails all the same shade of alligator green. A guy who took ten minutes of knocking before he answered the door, yelled at me that I should've knocked louder, the pizza was probably cold now. A grandma type who tipped me a single dime. A small party, door answered by two dudes in sombreros. They offered me a can of PBR, icy cold, beautiful condensation, and I hesitated, but turned them down. A motel off the freeway, a dark parking lot that made me nervous, so I laced my keys between my knuckles, in 411 a guy in a robe that barely covered anything, a pair of crossed legs on the bed behind him. Several nondescript men and woman in quiet apartments, every movement--the knocking, the lock clicking open, bills being pulled from wallets, change from pockets, cardboard shifting, that final slam, lock back in place--sounding unbearably loud.

It was an average night.

Being in the head of Pizza Girl was such a invigorating experience that I felt the novel drag in the middle when she had to interact with an adult. Jenny walks her own tightrope, but is established in the grown-up world and her troubles weren't as compelling. Toward the end, I could see Pizza Girl as a fresh take on one of my favorite movies, Taxi Driver (1976). Whereas cab companies have never been part of the fabric of L.A., pizza delivery has and is. It fit that a lonely soul desperately searching for some outlet for her desire would drive pizzas around town. Pizza Girl chooses a much different outlet than Travis Bickle, but they share the same angst.

Jean Kyoung Frazier was born (in 1993) and raised in Torrance, California.

In the event you missed them: Previous reviews in the Year of Women:

Come Closer, Sara Gran
Veronica, Mary Gaitskill
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, Viv Albertine
Profile Image for Michael || TheNeverendingTBR.
427 reviews139 followers
February 2, 2023
This one is about a pregnant, eighteen-year-old pizza delivery driver called Jane who becomes obsessed with a customer called Jenny, a mum desperate to help her son settle in a new town by getting him his favourite pizza.

When Jane shows up to deliver the pizza and meets Jenny, the story starts with these two lonely souls connecting.

The book starts quirky and lighthearted, then I was surprised at how dark and depressing it became, the writing is very good though and for a debut novel - I think the writer should be proud of themselves.

I'd definitely read another of her books.
Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books306 followers
December 19, 2019
I devoured this scrumptious coming-of-age novel in two sittings. On the level of voice, character development, and humor it struck all the right chords. It's Catcher in the Rye with a female lead, more modern, more swear words, and just more adult. Easily a cult classic, it was one of the most memorable and enjoyable books I read all year.

I will gladly read anything else the author puts out. For a first novel, it sizzles. It never stumbles, falters or cowers. From the gorgeous cover to the immersive rhythm, the pages flew by. Who doesn't love a saucy narrator? Taking the first person internal monologue to new heights, JKF lathers each chapter with alluring, intimate details, enough to overwhelm anyone's emotional arteries. The novel explores love, in all of its myriad forms, friendship, commitment, lassitude, drudgery, modern ennui, and the angst that has become inescapable in our culture.

A thrilling, bold, timeless literary statement, not a junk food entertainment.
Profile Image for Skyler Autumn.
224 reviews1,376 followers
August 25, 2020
1.5 Stars

This book was very forgettable. It follows the story of an unnamed self-absorbed protagonist (who is young and pregnant) and her obsession with a woman she delivers pizza too. The obsession or connection these two characters share is never really explained or explored. The most common thing I can think that these women share is their level of self absorption which is written in such way that you're not amused or entertained just irritated.

Like the character's in the novel this book is so shallow and surface there is nothing to get out of it other than irritation that you wasted time reading it or money buying it. The relationship between these women is so forced that the obsession shared doesn't even make sense because the author doesn't develop anything it's just written plainly, which I guess is the theme of this entire book.

It's just 200-something pages of a character sabotage her life for the sake of it? OR Is it grief? Is sexual identity confusion? Is it bi-polar disorder? Is it alcoholism? Is it narcism? Don't worry all these questions are answered in the end. I'm fucking kidding nothing is answered in the end because like I said there is no form of development within these pages.
Profile Image for Steph.
478 reviews248 followers
August 18, 2021
I wanted to be the type of person that walked with their back straight, the dirt under their fingernails pure. I didn't want to be a chain saw, I wanted to be a plastic baggie. No shredding, just holding. I wondered what animals lived under the shadows of my bones. I hoped they were animals of nobility - lions and eagles and horses with long manes - and not what I feared - vultures and wolves and drooling hyenas.


i devoured this book like it was a late night pizza after a long and hungry day.

some readers might be turned off by the abundance of mundane details in pizza girl, but all of these details make up the daily life that our pizza girl feels trapped within. she avoids the bigger realities of her situation by focusing on the little things and i enjoyed every one of the small details because they all feel viscerally tangible.

the book is often odd and uncomfortable because our protagonist's life is odd and uncomfortable. it feels ugly and real. frazier brings it all to life in gritty, vivid detail. there's something about the way she writes that makes everything seem understandable and relatable, too, and i absolutely love it.

Words were funny like that. One moment they could wound you, turn into bricks that would sink to the bottom of your stomach. The next moment those bricks were transforming into butterflies, eagles, pterodactyls, Frisbees, various flying objects rising to your chest and nesting in the spaces between your ribs.

one of the greatest strengths of pizza girl is the characterization. it would be easy for the story to villainize pizza girl's doting but alienated boyfriend, or her grandchild-hungry mother. but they are multifaceted, flawed, and understandable. jane herself is an unlikable main character, but that doesn't detract from the story. the pizza delivery recipients, assorted coworkers, and even jenny, the object of our protagonist's misguided yearning, are so nuanced and real.

and holy shit, such a good representation of confused, misguided yearning. our pizza girl needs an escape from her situation, and fixating on jenny is the perfect way to preoccupy her mind. as someone who has also developed embarrassing age gap crushes when i was struggling and needed comfort, i related deeply to the bittersweet infatuation. it can be irresistible to imagine that someone is your perfect match, that they hurt in the same way you hurt, that they alone have the power to save you.

the dad stuff is really intense too. jane avoids her grief, and she's terrified of being like her distant, alcoholic, recently-deceased dad. yet she numbs the pain by drinking, undeterred by her age or by her pregnancy. she's too detached and avoidant to even recognize that she should feel guilt, or to examine the alcoholism linking herself to her father. it's painfully and beautifully done.

i loved this and i'll be thrilled to read whatever frazier comes out with next!!


here are some quotes i especially adored:

We laughed and made marks on each other's bodies, wet red spots that even after they dried would still shine for days afterward, make us smile whenever we saw them reflected back in mirrors and windows, little red beacons that screamed to whoever stared at them, "Hey, hi, hello, howdy, look at me, I am alive and loved."


I wished for all five of her fingertips to become permanent islands on the fabric of my shirt.


I hoped before our kiss ended I could figure out how we could go back to before, to my bedroom when we had just met, and talking was as simple as opening our mouths and saying whatever thought popped into our minds, the words flowing out like Froot Loops from a never-ending box - colorful and sweet and so light that you could hold a whole handful without feeling like you were weighed down by anything.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,850 reviews34.9k followers
August 7, 2020
Audiobook... narrated by
Jeena Yi

“Pizza Girl”, by Jean Kyoung Frazier had a catchy beginning.
But quickly I grew disenchanted.

I was getting nauseous from
the many empty calorie food concoctions: red licorice twisters, ice cream with Cheetos, cookies, candy, hot dogs. tacos, peanut butter. coke, and coffee, to name a ‘few’.

Reviewer, *Danielle*, described this book as a “Train Wreck”.
Danielle says:
“Do you like watching paint dry?? If yes, this book is for you! Too harsh? Whoever wrote the synopsis to this book that included the words
‘funny’ and ‘charmingly dysfunctional’, needs to re-examine a thing or two. A drunk, pregnant, crazy stocker is not funny IMHO”.
Go, Danielle! Amen!!

Vomiting blood isn’t funny either!!! -I can’t stand scenes in books or movies that has a lot vomiting.

Nose scratching — sore backs—broken arms - more diet cokes - a couple more cases of beer—

Yep... I’m with Danielle - this book is a train wreck.....
entertaining in it’s own miserable way- but not particularly nutritious for our bodies or brain.
On that note....I’m
going to make Paul and I a large fresh salad for dinner tonight.

A little endearing -
A little pathetic -
A little eye rolling -
A little sad, funny, entertaining...
but also .....
a little tedious &
enough already!

Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,394 reviews7,264 followers
August 21, 2020
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Is it only called a nervous breakdown if there’s someone there to point at you and be, like, “Yo, get your shit straight, you are nervous and you are breaking down”?

A dramatic reenactment of my face any time someone dared walk into my reading room while I was devouring this . . . .

Pizza Girl is definitely not going to be for everyone (ACTUAL SPOILER SO BEWARE: ), but boy do I love broken people and daring storylines written by authors who are willing to take risks and realize they are going to turn a lot of people off with their chosen subject matter, and coming of age stories, and I definitely loved that I got these types of vibes . . . .

But only in a bleaker way since I sort of live for fictional misery. It also helped that I went into this with suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper low expectations after really not enjoying Convenience Store Woman (which this is compared to in the blurb) and then being surprised that I actually did like it.

Obviously YMMV.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,563 reviews1,934 followers
February 18, 2020
You could call this book darkly funny, but I think that's an oversimplification. It is sometimes funny, but you can't ever get carried away by our protagonist's biting humor. Because under it all she is deeply unhappy. She has just finished with high school and is unexpectedly pregnant, living with her mother and boyfriend, who are both excited and thrilled about the pregnancy. She is not. She works at a pizza place and that is where she meets Jenny, a mother who calls in with an unusual order, and then becomes our protagonist's obsession.

This is going to be a tough read for a lot of people. Our protagonist is very loved but that love makes her feel suffocated. She makes bad choices (it is incredibly rare to have someone in a book drink while pregnant who isn't supposed to be there just as an addict and cautionary tale, it will make you uncomfortable) and even while you take hope from her budding relationship with Jenny, you know this isn't going to end well.

I wanted a little more from this, the more plot-driven parts can feel forced. But I enjoyed the voice and how boldly unapologetic it is.
Profile Image for Meike.
1,445 reviews2,183 followers
February 6, 2022
This is a wonderfully gritty coming-of-age novel and although it's set in LA, not NYC, it somehow evoked a soundtrack by The Strokes in my mind (which is a compliment as I LOVE The Strokes). 18-year-old pizza delivery girl Jane (an anagram of Jean, the author's name) does not know what to do with her life - and she's pregnant. Her alcoholic father just passed away, her doting mother, a Korean immigrant, and her loving boyfriend try to take care of her, but Jane is overwhelmed by her situation and feels stuck and unable to communicate her pain and confusion, as she fears she will hurt the people she loves. When delivering pizza to Jenny, a client more than double her age, Jane develops a crush on the married woman that slowly becomes an obession, fed by her wish to escape and to explore her sexual identity...

Frazier shows that a topic that has been tackled countless times - the difficulties of becoming an adult - can be narrated in a fresh, absorbing way. Jane is a wonderful protagonist and unreliable narrator, messy and relatable. I read the whole book in one sitting, and I enjoyed every second of it. The tone oscillates between coolness, humor, and vulnerability, the many flashbacks also offer a glimpse into the mother's immigrant story as well as Jane's experiences growing up the daughter of a heavy alcoholic.

A great debut, and I hope Frazier will soom come up with a second effort.
April 1, 2020
"I had been thinking constantly about han, a feeling that had been killing generation upon generation of Korean people. According to Mom, han was born in the gut and rose to the chest. … Han was a sickness of the soul, an acceptance of having a life that would be filled with sorrow and resentment and knowing that deep down, despite this acceptance, despite cold and hard facts that proved life was long and full of undeserved miseries, "hope" was still a word that carried warmth and meaning. Despite themselves, Koreans were not believers, but feelers—they pictured the light at the end of the tunnel and fantasized about how lovely that first touch of sun would feel against their skin, about all they could do in wide-open spaces."

In Jean Kyoung Frazier's zany, heartfelt debut novel, an 18-year-old Korean pizza delivery driver finds herself on the precipice of motherhood while writhing in grief after losing her alcoholic father. Itching to escape her greasy underpaying job and the touch of her mother and boyfriend’s smothering love, our pizza girl protagonist fixes her gaze on Jenny, a stay-at-home mom whose presence becomes the portal through which such freedoms seem within reach.

Whether it was her namelessness or otherness as just another millennial of color squandering her life under the sun-kissed promises of LA, I could not decide which plight plucked harder at my heart as I peeled back the pages on the most indecipherable teenage characters I’ve read in years. The only comparison that fondly comes to mind is Corvus of Richard Chiem’s King of Joy, in part because beating at the core of what appears to be a rather despondent, joyless young woman is a child questing after her father in the deep dark of beer bottles, through the revolving lives of the strangers she meets, and eventually, through the barrel of a gun. What makes Jean’s story so impossible to put down is that we will never see what’s coming before the trigger is pulled, before it is too late.

With Pizza Girl, Jean tenderly captures that purgatory of adolescence and adulthood in a scary yet wholehearted story of a young woman on the fringes of grief and desire. By the book’s ending, I could not deny Jean her flowers. If Young Adult and ‘Juno’ had a lovechild, it would be Pizza Girl. It would be gold.

If you liked my review, feel free to follow me @parisperusing on Instagram.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,677 reviews119 followers
October 6, 2020
"I stared hard at every person I walked past. If they didn't tell me my shoes were untied, I cursed them in my head - '**** you, how dare you not warn a pregnant woman that she could fall' - and if they did tell me my shoes were untied, I cursed them in my head - '**** you, leave me alone, I can do whatever I want.'" -- the titular protagonist, on page 35

To paraphrase a sentiment from the late film critic Roger Ebert (tweaking it from directing a movie to writing a book) about a first-timer breaking onto the scene: "Now that we know Jean Kyoung Frazier can make a book like Pizza Girl, it's time for her to move on and make a better one. This book, the first from an obviously talented young writer, is like an exercise in style." Indeed, Pizza Girl has a fair amount of style, but it falls short on the substance and left me feeling unsatisfied at the conclusion.

The title character is a pregnant eighteen year-old Korean-American young woman living in LA's working-class suburbs with her widowed mother and her well-meaning boyfriend in the summer of 2011. (Her unreliable alcoholic father had passed away a few years earlier.) To help make ends meet - as mom is a Kmart sales clerk and boyfriend works for a landscaping crew - she takes a post-high school job working at a local pizzeria, making the food deliveries in her problematic Ford Festiva.

The plot is kicked into motion when 'PG' (she is actually not identified by her given name until the final chapter) meets a customer - a lonely and frazzled 30-ish housewife/mother with a finicky young son - during a phoned-in order and the subsequent delivery. The two women bond and begin an unusual relationship which appears pleasant at first - they both seem like they could use a friend - but then gets sort of off-kilter and then ultimately gets really alarming with the actions of one of them near the end. Pizza Girl seems to be either loved or hated by the GR ratings and reviews, but I'm splitting the difference here. I think the book would've been better served in a short story format or novella, but it's uncomfortably stretched out to nearly 200 pages. Author Frazier definitely has some raw talent, and it should be interesting to see what she'll serve up to us next. Check, please.
Profile Image for Michelle.
588 reviews443 followers
January 10, 2023
I'm disappointed in this because a lot of book friends I respect and have similar taste with loved this book. I however, did not. In the beginning, the nameless main character reminded me of Daria from the MTV show way, way back. I enjoyed the sarcasm and wry sense of humor. The book continuted but I struggled to keep interest in the book because not much happens. It's clear the MC didn't know what she wanted out of anything and was dealing with some very complex issues, but I don't feel like her obsession with Jenny was well explained? Neither was any issue that she could have been dealing with (grief, shock, sexual identity to name a few). I needed something to feel like following this character around and making bad decision after bad decision was worth it. You want to see some kind of growth or at least an understanding as to why someone behaves the way that they do. (At least I do!)

I definitely encourage you to read this - I guess it just wasn't for me.

Thanks to Libro.fm for the audio!

Review Date: 03/23/21
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,027 followers
November 24, 2020
Electric Literature says Pizza Girl is the "The Queer Slacker Pizza Delivery Novel We’ve Been Waiting For" and I'm not even sure I can say it better than that, but I'll try.

"Her name was Jenny Hauser and every Wednesday I put pickles on her pizza." And that's how the novel PIZZA GIRL begins. I've had this book on my radar but the comparisons to Moshfegh didn't make me want to try it - but it is one of the shortest books from the Tournament of Books longlist that I could get from the library without waiting.

The main character, whose name you don't know most of the time since it's all from her perspective, recently lost her father. She bonded with a classmate at a grief group and by the time the novel starts, he's moved in with her and her Mom because she is pregnant. She is 18 and is working part-time delivering pizzas in what I like to call "regular California." The most social interaction she has comes from the people she delivers pizzas to and the lives she comes up with for them.

I enjoyed (?) the read despite some heavy handed metaphors and some random narrative tangents (usually when the story would jump to someone else's drama at the pizza place - one I had to reread three times to figure out what happened) - the mother and boyfriend seem like good people but they are not able to stop the MC from spiraling, and that journey is the crux of the plot. In the E.L. article linked above, the author talks about the role of imagination in the MC's life and where that can go wrong, and it wasn't something I particularly zeroed in on but enjoyed thinking about after finishing the novel.

As far as the Tournament of Books goes, I'm not sure this is one of the top 16 reads, however I would love a match between this book and Jack by Marilynne Robinson. Both stories revolve around a slacker type character with people around them who can see the issues but not help. The writing and focus are entirely different but they actually have more in common than not.
Profile Image for Laura • lauralovestoread.
1,107 reviews229 followers
May 16, 2020
I abandoned everything that I was reading temporarily and binge read Pizza Girl in one sitting last night, and I loved it! Told in such an honest, unusual way, with just enough humor, and I just loved this coming-of-age story.⁣

I don’t know what it is about oddball characters with wit that I gravitate towards so much, but the protagonist in this story really pulled me in. It’s weird and tender, and at every funny turn there’s also such unexpected rawness.⁣

*thank you Doubleday for the free copy! All opinions are my own
Profile Image for AsToldByKenya.
125 reviews1,689 followers
September 4, 2022
ouuu the low overall rating for this book is kinda nasty. I like this book a lot. I totally understand what probably didn't work for some people. but even those things I can't imagine people hated SO bad. Imma say yall just didn't get it lol. This book is really nuanced and we get character that I feel is very rarely put into books even though it may be mistaken for "depressed girl sucks at life" but I found her to be layered.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,286 reviews638 followers
July 9, 2020
Han: a Korean term/ concept for an acceptance of having a life filled with sorrow and resentment. “

Pizza Girl” by Jean Kyoung Frazier follows Jane, the narrator, in her eighteenth year, pregnant, rudderless, and searching. Jane is sad, self-destructive, yet yearning for something to make her life happy.

I tend to judge a book by its cover, and hence I thought “Pizza Girl” would be a quirky fun protagonist like in “Lady Bird”. Alas, no such thing in the novel. Yet, I loved it all the same. Jane isn’t very likable, but she is easy to understand. All the characters in this novel are struggling and aching.

Jane doesn’t know what she wants out of life or what she wants to do with her life. She’s newly pregnant, living with her mother who works at Walmart, and the baby daddy who is a landscaper. Jane works at a Pizza restaurant only because a friend of hers convinced the owner to hire Jane. Jane is off-putting and didn’t impress Earl, the owner of the pizza joint. In fact, Jane scares most people by her energy of unhappiness.

Jane’s boyfriend, aka the baby-daddy is a sweet blond American boy who received a full academic scholarship to USC, which he foregoes to be with Jane and help raise their baby. He’s bright, adorable, and dedicated to Jane. Jane, prior to getting pregnant, was a bit more hopeful. The reader learns through the story that Jane’s father was a horrible drunk. He recently died and Jane hasn’t fully processed the death and her feelings about her father.

Jane is a delivery person for the pizza place. Every delivery she makes, she observes the lives of the people. She’s trying to grasp what other people’s lives are like. She’s looking for ideas of what life could be. One particular customer, Jenny, has a visceral effect on Jane. Jenny has her own issues and struggles that make Jane reflect on her own life and future. Jane grows a toxic relationship with Jenny. Although Jenny is an adult, she is so entrenched in her own problems she doesn’t take responsibility in her relationship with Jane.

All is not bleak. There is hopefulness in this story. Growing up is hard to do, and for Jane, it’s complicated with her teen pregnancy and her relationship with her alcoholic father. The characters are quirky and there is much dark humor. It’s a raw and emotional and will have the reader rooting for all the characters. It’s a true skill that an author can make unlikeable characters ones that the reader only hopes for the best.
Profile Image for Mari.
698 reviews4,307 followers
January 1, 2021

I just also read Luster by Raven Leilani, which is a good comparison point for this book: a slice of life with a messy character in a bad place making bad decisions. This also feels unresolved at the end, because what resolution could you possibly have in 200 pages for such a complex things as life?

As with all of these sorts of short looks at car wreck lives sorts of stories, the make it or break it will be whether you can withstand the cringe, if you find the dark humor funny, and whether or not, despite her bad decisions, you still have sympathy for Pizza Girl.

In all its sadness, this has so much to say about grief and loss, about addiction, cycles of parenting and what we inherit from our parents, how much you can know about a person, obsession, and mental health. I would love to read more from Frazier in the future.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
977 reviews1,092 followers
June 29, 2022
What a strange, oddly moving little book! Quite frankly, I am not sure what to make of it.

I rarely enjoy stories about teenagers, simply because I loathe the vast majority of teenagers and their weird hormonal angst bores me – even in fiction. But our “Pizza Girl” is not quite a regular teenager: 18, pregnant, rudderless, mourning for her father, she is totally disassociating from her colleagues, but more importantly from her sweet and caring mother and her devoted boyfriend. She has no real emotions regarding her pregnancy and hides in her late father’s shed to drink at night. This funk is shaken up when a woman calls the pizza shop she works at with a strange request: a pepperoni and pickles pizza for her son, who misses a similar pizza from their hometown. For reasons she doesn’t quite understand, Pizza Girl instantly connects with Jenny, a middle aged mom who doesn’t try to hide her household’s chaos or the messiness that motherhood has brought upon her. Her weekly deliveries become a highlight of her life, but this fixation can’t entirely stop her from coming apart at the seams.

Parents fuck you up, don’t they? They don’t mean to, of course, but children pick up on much more stuff than their parents give them credit for. Pizza Girl’s detachment can be hard to read about, because it really is a result of not knowing how to manage pain and grief, not having the tools with which to process anything – not even something as major as her pregnancy. Jenny is in many ways, just as lost as her tiny teenage stalker, but she has an anchor that only time and experience gives you.

This is such an interesting, if flawed debut, and I’d be very curious to see what Jean Kyoung Frazier does next: her writing is insightful and deadpan. I’ll be keeping an eye on her!
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
1,947 reviews299 followers
June 24, 2020
I am obsessed!

Pizza Girl was endearing and surprisingly, a very good read that caught me by surprise. This was a flawless debut novel about an unforgettably flawed Korean- American protagonist I adored completely. Such a unique read.

Our Pizza Girl is eighteen years old, pregnant, lost, and grieving the death of her father. Living with her mom and boyfriend in the suburbs of Los Angeles, she connects with one of her customers, Jenny whom she delivers pizza to.

This book was so quirky I read and enjoyed this in one afternoon. It was funny and endearing, yet dark and original. I recommend this one for an unconventional coming-of-age story.
Profile Image for Zoe Jackson.
111 reviews691 followers
June 14, 2022
growing up is really fucking hard especially when you’ve been forced to!!! growing up and realizing adults are complex and often miserable is really hard too and watching pizza girl try to cope with that through an unhealthy obsession was really intriguing and i think it will speak to a lot of ppl
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,357 reviews2,291 followers
July 19, 2020
There's an interesting thread in female-authored contemporary fiction which is challenging complacency and stability narratives and that's where I'd place this: it's a little like Halle Butler's The New Me without such a strong women-at-work aesthetic. Frazier's protagonist confronts a different taboo: pregnancy, and the fact that she's just not sure she wants it.

With issues of millenial malaise, wanting and yet being suffocated by love, obsession and fantasy, dealing with grief, and tackling the disappointments of the 'American Dream', there are lots of themes thrown into the mix and they don't all have space to breathe. Brevity might not be doing this book favours however welcome it is to find a pared back writing style that isn't bloated with filler.

JKF mixes up the surreal with melancholy and a dark humour - this feels like a debut but definitely an author to watch.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
125 reviews
June 28, 2020
What on earth did I just read..... Blech. Worst book I’ve read all year by far. I feel gross all over. Read at your own risk, the main character is despicable, and I can’t even qualify it by saying she redeemed herself or anything. Awful awful awful. The writing is fine, but the story itself is nonexistent and the character development .. well that’s nonexistent too. There’s zero redeeming qualities to this main character and her motivations, so I’ll give zero stars to this story too.
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