STARRED REVIEW
June 06, 2017

Enter the mind of a part-time girlfriend

By Catherine Lacey

If you were ill and undergoing expensive treatments, you’d probably be willing to go to some extremes to pay those bills. That’s certainly the case for Mary Parsons, who fled a Southern childhood burdened by religion for New York City. Mary’s chronic pain seems hopeless until her college roommate, Chandra, introduces her to Ed and the practice of pneuma adaptive kinesthesia, or PAKing. Each session is pricey, although Mary doesn’t know exactly how Ed makes her feel so much better. That doesn’t matter, though, as long as she can cover Ed’s exorbitant fees.

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If you were ill and undergoing expensive treatments, you’d probably be willing to go to some extremes to pay those bills. That’s certainly the case for Mary Parsons, who fled a Southern childhood burdened by religion for New York City. Mary’s chronic pain seems hopeless until her college roommate, Chandra, introduces her to Ed and the practice of pneuma adaptive kinesthesia, or PAKing. Each session is pricey, although Mary doesn’t know exactly how Ed makes her feel so much better. That doesn’t matter, though, as long as she can cover Ed’s exorbitant fees.

That’s why she turns to Craigslist and ends up with a too-good-to-be-true (if strange) new job: emotional girlfriend to actor Kurt Sky. Sky’s Girlfriend Experiment casts different women in a number of roles that, together, represent the sum of a girlfriend. Mary hasn’t been in a relationship herself in quite some time. And Chandra has gone missing, leaving Mary even more of a loner than usual. The experiment leaves her reminiscing about her ex-boyfriend and the parents whose religion drove her first to her aunt, then to the city. What is the nature of relationships, anyway?

In her second novel, Catherine Lacey (Nobody Is Ever Missing) sends readers on an emotional and intellectual trip. The researchers behind the Girlfriend Experiment utilize technology to track—and then manipulate—both physical and emotional responses. Mary’s growing entanglement with Kurt leaves her questioning how people relate to one another. It’s a daunting question, and the reader, like Mary, will be left looking inward for the answers.

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The Answers

The Answers

By Catherine Lacey
FSG
ISBN 9780374100261

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