I’m a sucker for coming of age stories, and I’ve read and watched a lot of them, but the premise for this one brings an unexpected combination of things: A woman in her mid-twenties, formerly a collegiate swimmer, can’t figure out her life so she moves to SEC-country to live with a plate-painting aunt and to lose her virginity. It goes ok.
The protagonist is Julia Greenfield, the kind of character that might live in Stars Hollow or the dorm in Undeclared. She’s drifting through life, away from any career, away from friends, away from meaning. With no real plans except leaving her dead end job that she is failing at, she decides to move to North Carolina to live with her Aunt Viv (not that one, or the other one), an eccentric and oddly charismatic woman in North Carolina. They don’t really know one another because they haven’t spent much meaningful time together, but it seems to be a pleasant opportunity for both.
With nothing else to do and no real goals in mind, Julia is determinate to lose her virginity during her summer at Aunt Viv’s. Because of her age she is nervous, and isn’t sure whether something is wrong with her, the world, all of it, none of it, or whether things will just happen. Virginity is virginity here, and also sort of a symbol of growth and connection, a la Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Evas.
It’s the kind of book where “nothing happens”, and it’s not a riotous romp or hangout, but for some reason it’s magnetic. I found myself caring deeply about the characters and happy to lounge in the cluttered living rooms, the bland offices, the too-hot cafes, the porches that smelled like fresh rain and unidentified animal. This would make a great little indie movie to watch on a Wednesday night while eating a grilled cheese, if that makes sense.