Sunday, December 29, 2013

Country Girl, City Girl

2004, undated later edition, from Houghton Mifflin
Lisa Jahn-Clough
Country Girl, City Girl
Bought newish for $6.99
Slightly worn paperback

This was published a generation after Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind (1982), and it's interesting to look at the similarities and differences.  As the title suggests, part of the book is set in the country (rural Maine) and part in New York City, as opposed to all in NYC in Annie.  You might expect a dual narrative, but it's all from the perspective of thirteen-year-old country girl Phoebe, who meets fourteen-year-old Melita, the daughter of the best friend of Phoebe's late mother.  The passage of time seems to have allowed for greater explicitness.  Instead of "heck" and "damn" being the strongest swears, the S-bomb is dropped a few times.  Also, there are more mentions of breasts than in Garden's book.  And yet, perhaps because the girls are younger, they never do more than kiss.  They also come across as more bi-curious than definitely lesbian, and we don't even get a delayed Happy Ending, since the girls don't end up together.  (Phoebe does make another new friend, but it's not indicated that this friendship will turn romantic.)

I said that Annie was quaint and "timeless."  Here, there are more contemporary (or at least '90s) touches, like an androgynous barista and mentions of hair-dying, piercing, and tattoos, as well as the girls staging a "postmodern, feminist" fairy tale "fashion show."  I did find that the dialogue was more natural than in Annie.  However, I didn't particularly like Melita, so I wasn't especially rooting for her and Phoebe as a couple.  Perhaps it would've been better to have half the book from her viewpoint, although admittedly that didn't work too well when Danziger gave her Phoebe and Rosie each a book.

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