A debut collection of witty, elegant short stories that follow women from the brink of adulthood, to the labyrinthine gap between twenty and thirty, to middle age and the quiet instants in which certain possibilities disappear—exploring themes of identity, yearning, aspiration and family.
... gray areas of emotion are where the stories in this collection thrive ... a tightly crafted collection of stories grappling with the power dynamics of couples with the women in these relationships often suffering for the benefit of the men. Sestanovich writes with precise prose and winnows the narratives into the most meaningful moments in the lives of her characters. Her skill as a storyteller is drawing out subtle emotional responses even as she crafts broader narratives.
The images that close...stories can have this kind of poetic reach, this upward tilt. If they sometimes feel a little strained, there’s a structural beauty, a hidden order 'containing' the wandering episodes. A remarkable talent is at work here ... Sestanovich has taken on the challenge of narrating lives cluttered with discontinuities, crowded with incomplete causes and effects, and she’s interested in what characters—who can only know so much—tell themselves about what’s going on. (The reader is left deducing a bit more.) There’s much to admire in the complications of these unplotlike plots, always hopping over the expected ... Rarely is anything in these stories less than convincing; she is precise about her characters’ often elusive emotions ... The exactness of such passages is elating. But readerly impatience can sometimes arise. This has to do with which experiences are stressed, which angles we get to view these characters’ lives from ... Though it tries not to, [one] story feels a bit pitiless ... All the same, there is a good deal to like about the heartlessness that tinges this fiction ... Here and there I found myself becoming the pesky reader offering secret disapproval ... Sestanovich...is already able to delineate in swift detail a narrow world, with its standards and shames and swindles, while indicating that she knows it’s not the whole world. This knowing is what gives the work its weight. And she has the power to subvert conventional story structure yet build a story with its own order.
The stories contain plot insomuch as real life contains plot: we make sense and meaning out of what we're given ... The book's tiny moments are what create layers atop the unexceptional ... With Sestanovich, the everyday is a little shinier ... Along with questioning their own bodies, the women in the collection question memory — which memories can they claim as their own? How will the present be remembered? Do they remember accurately? In Sestanovich's clear prose, these questions are subtle, soft, and casual ... Sestanovich's humor is subtle and earnest. Her characters take it all quite seriously but in the ways we all do.