Benoîte-Marie (Berie) is our narrator. We start with her in Paris, where she’s traveling with her husband, who is lecturing on Tay-Sachs disease. Berie is vaguely dissatisfied, filled with ennui about her marriage. She muses about her teenage-hood in Horsehearts, upstate NY, and her deep friendship with Silsby Chaussée. It’s a story told in wonderfully crafted, evocative prose, that captures not so much a story arc, but rather the feeling of being almost grown up, wandering, being consumed by a friendship, finding an identity while losing your innocence, feeling lost and bewildered by your own emotions, making it up as you go along, and making decisions (sometimes bad ones) that affect you in ways you couldn’t have ever guessed. The plot is incidental to this story, but Moore strikes the mood just right, that melancholy-childish-happiness that colors everything at that age, from singing silly songs with the frogs to getting in trouble with the law.
This is a lovely book, short and pithy, funny and heartbreaking. I loved the writing style–Lorrie Moore can write–and the way it’s crafted, an extremely deliberate stream-of-consciousness. I’d give it five stars for the style alone, but I wanted there to be more connection between the teenage Berie and the grown-up Berie, and I wanted a little more characterization of the rest of the family (mom, dad, brother, sister, even Sils), although I realize that they weren’t the point of the story. So a solid four stars from me.