Maria Adelmann skillfully handles the insecurity of female youth in her collection of stories, Girls of a Certain Age ... Adelmann subtly crafts vehicles into that uncertain headspace that girls and women often experience when deciding who is to blame, or where they should be focusing their attention, or what love should look like. The thirteen stories can be unsurprisingly cynical but never lack for elegance ... These stories show that many girls and women, modern and otherwise, share the unintentional habit of waiting. Waiting to grow up, waiting to feel better, waiting for a husband to return from war, waiting for a nice guy to come along, waiting for the abuse to end, waiting for a father to get his act together. Adelmann exposes the precariousness of modern womanhood, of attempts at defining our sexuality using terms we’re supposed to understand without anyone explaining them to us. These stories seem to suggest that sometimes there is no right answer about what we’re supposed to be doing except surviving.
Young women eye their futures with the practiced skepticism of people who have already seen far too much. The stories in Adelmann’s debut collection feature women and girls adrift in the world. From broken homes, broken relationships, broken senses of their own identities, the narrators of these stories explore worlds marked by a bleak sense of anonymity—in these largely urban tales, all faces seem to be faces in the crowd. Many of the stories capture their narrators' inner monologues in a way that is both believable and illuminating ... The similarity among the subjects can sometimes overwhelm the experience of reading the individual pieces. But when read independently, the stories linger, clearly illuminated by their artistry, honesty, and pervasive courage. A strong debut from a writer who probes the inner lives of her female subjects with both purpose and humor.
Adelmann’s uneven debut collection focuses on young women facing difficult choices to varying degrees of impact ... While some stories could have been left on the cutting room floor, Adelmann offers an abundance of insights on the vicissitudes of life.