Joyce Carol Oates is one of the world's most respected living novelists. Her new novel is an intense, deeply moving story of how a young woman finds her place in the world.
'In those days in the early 1960s we were not women yet but girls. This was, without irony, perceived as our advantage.' So begins this book, an astonishingly intimate and unsparing self-portrait of a young woman who comes of age in the most turbulent of American decades.
'Anellia' - as she sometimes calls herself - is a student at Syracuse University, the first time she has lived away from her family. Headstrong, passionate, occasionally obsessive, she is pitiless in exposing herself to her new life as she searches for a place in the world.
In her quest for belonging, 'Anellia' discovers the risks, and curious rewards, of confronting the world: being taken in, and then cruelly rejected by a 'sisterhood' of her fellow students; falling recklessly in love with an older graduate student who happens to be black; making a journey westward when summoned by a figure from her past whom she believed to be dead.
Through this triptych of events, 'Anellia's' life comes together as she begins her journey into adulthood.