STARRED REVIEW
February 2015

The relationship spectrum

By Katherine Heiny
Review by
This radiant collection of short stories features a set of flawed yet sympathetic women in a whole mess of compromising positions.
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This radiant collection of short stories features a set of flawed yet sympathetic women in a whole mess of compromising positions.

Nina starts an affair with a man she meets while out running. Josie struggles to extract herself from a sizzling online relationship that fizzles when she meets Billy in real life. Gwen doesn’t lie, exactly, but if her folks want to believe Boris is her boyfriend and not just a roommate, who is she to burst their bubble? And Maya—who appears in several quietly delicious installments—slouches her way toward a mature relationship with some serious detours along the way.

Many of the women in these beautifully wrought stories are single, but they are anything but carefree or mellow. Just as we do in real life, they self-sabotage in ways huge and small, making choices based solely on their heart with no input from their head. First-time author Katherine Heiny takes great care to make her characters relatable even in their imperfections. She paints sweetly resonant moments that also can be very funny:

“For months and months Josie thought about Billy when she should have been wondering what to make for supper—or what to say at Kit’s parent-teacher conference or where Mickey’s lunch card was or if she left the oven on—and now here she is with Billy, and all she can think about is whether she used the last of the onions the night before. (She’s pretty sure she did.)”

Single, Carefree, Mellow is named for a story in which Maya ponders leaving her boyfriend of five years, then decides there is “such a thing as too much loss.” It’s a poignant moment that sums up this smart exploration of love and betrayal, and that fine line between happiness and pain.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Single, Carefree, Mellow

Single, Carefree, Mellow

By Katherine Heiny
Knopf
ISBN 9780385353632

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