The characters who populate Jenn Scott’s debut collection are both trapped and adrift. Stuck in dead-end jobs or stagnant relationships or simply caught in the grip of their own inertia, they opt out, act out, and strike out, searching for emotional sustenance in a landscape of pointless patterns and dwindling hopes. In situations that delight and discomfit, Scott explores the complicated, or simple, ways in which we settle.
Scott’s riveting emotional book stands out for the strength of its writing and for its portraits of small town waitresses, factory workers and fast food restaurant managers not often seen in contemporary fiction. In all these stories, Scott pays attention to gender and class but never reduces her characters to their sociological status. All Scott’s stories have strong openings with well-chosen details that often subtly elevate the every day into the mythic ... The stories are long, but they don’t feel long as Scott takes the time to develop character ... Various knives feature as potent symbols (though never heavy-handed) in three of the stories and seem apropos to Scott’s vision in all of the stories in this collection of how relationships—familial, romantic, platonic—cut into us but also how painful it is when we try to cut ourselves out of them to become our true adult selves.
[Scott’s] characters work and play and search for meaning in fast food restaurants, in small houses and apartments in crowded neighborhoods; money is both the least of their problems and the ground note of their discontents ... [Scott] can...define characters and situations with a few deft lines ... She draws poignant and memorable figures who often form unlikely and often temporary alliances against the loneliness and misery that constantly threaten to overwhelm them ... Scott’s stories often have commercial settings—restaurants and factories—and focus on the uneasy, oddly intimate relationships of working people who are thrown together largely by chance. Comedy and disaster jostle uneasily...
Scott’s stories examine the interior lives of middle- and working-class women in the deteriorating Rust Belt of Pennsylvania, from fast-food workers to set-upon waitresses, but she's also interested in unpacking the ways that stories are told ... The best stories in the collection find room among Scott’s gritty realism for more movement and play in the unexpected ... Beneath all of Scott’s strange and moving stories lie the promise or threat of violence and despair, which is, perhaps, the most real thing about them. A promising collection that offers a necessary glimpse into lives often left unexamined.