RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewWhat a relief it is when an author who has written a masterpiece returns to prove the gift intact ... translated once again by the nimble and attentive Goldstein ... Adolescence remains rich territory for Ferrante. Here as in her past work, she captures the interior states of young people with an unflinching psychological honesty that is striking in its vividness and depth. We share in Giovanna’s embarrassments, the tortured logic of her self-soothing, her temptations and decisions that accrete into something like experience...Ferrante’s genius is to stay with the discomfort. With the same propulsive, episodic style she perfected in the Neapolitan quartet, she traces how it is that the consciousness of a girl at 12 becomes that of a young woman at 16 ... The change in period makes all the difference. Setting Giovanna’s coming-of-age in the early 1990s, Ferrante slyly asks how decades of feminism and reaction have changed the world since the Neapolitan novels’ Lila and Lenù were teenagers ... There is also more humor to be found, at least in Giovanna’s perfect Gen X deadpan ... [a] perhaps too-abrupt end.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...a director’s commentary of sorts on her most memorable stories, several of which are reprinted here. The later essays, about her father’s death, are the most ambitious as writing, but the hits hold ... [she writes] with patience, humor and a wildly generous attitude toward her audience ... West’s humor, I admit, is not always my style. At times it feels juvenile, irritating ... But no matter, there is good work here that represents a decade of public service for which she deserves years of back pay.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe writing that feels truest to life describes Valenti feeling sapped of it....[P]erhaps there’s no better illustration of the way everyday sexism grinds one down than the fatigue that drags on this book. But Valenti short-sells her peers when she suggests humor is a pandering concession or a rictus grin women must wear to mask their pain. Humor needn’t be a diluting agent; it can be a Trojan horse. As the saying goes, if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, or they’ll try to kill you.