Lorrie Moore's novel is a coming of age comedy of errors, about two best friends, Berie and Sils, and their fateful summer of lost innocence in 1972. It is packed with quirky characters such as a dwarf taxi driver, her best friend Sils oddball French-Canadian mother, and Berie's aloof grandmother. The story is told in flashback by Berie, who now middle aged, is looking back with bittersweet remembrance at her childhood and adolescence while at a Parisian cafe. She recalls her life growing up in a small town in upstate New York along with her equally misfit friend and neighbor, Sils. The highlights of their pivotal summer included sneaking out at night to bars, hitch hiking, smoking cigarettes, going to an outdoor concert where they ditched her socially inept sister, and of course hooking up with boys. The bad memories were of Sils getting pregnant, Berie stealing money from the cash drawer at Storyland Park for Sils abortion, the uncomfortable visits to her grandmother's house, and eventually being shipped off to boarding school as a result of the theft.
Despite the traumatic events and deteriorating friendship, life in Horsehearts, New York has it's tender side, as the girls perform triage on injured frogs at the pond near their house and make fools of themselves wearing fairytale character costumes for their job at Storyland. However, Berie is continually re-immerging to the present day, reminded of her faltering marriage to a man she can hardly stand to be around anymore and the disconnect with her remaining family. Berie eventually returns home to try to reconnect with long-lost friends and relations only to learn that it can be painful to cling too tightly to some memories.
This report prepared by David Fletcher