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Girls of a Certain Age (Hardcover)
A fearless, darkly playful debut exploring the many impossible choices that accompany 21st century femaleness.
What is the right way to handle an abusive partner? An unexpected pregnancy? A toxic friendship? Chronic unemployment? Gender dysphoria? A family member going to war? A disability? Anger? Loneliness?
Finding themselves in disempowering, frightening, or otherwise unendurable circumstances, the girls, women, and non-binary characters in Maria Adelmann's stories look for ways to free themselves into new lives or, at the very least, new states of feeling. Sometimes they do this by hurting someone else or getting hurt; sometimes by submitting, other times by mounting a rebellion. With a special talent for pressing the sharp up against the tender, Adelmann explores the many pathways through the titular condition.
Ranging in style from the magical to the terrifying to the calm tones of a self-help manual, Girls of a Certain Age captures the spectrum of strategies we apply to the pain of life, strategies that we persist in pretending might actually work.
About the Author
Maria Adelmann’s work has been published by Tin House, n+1, The Threepenny Review, Indiana Review, Epoch, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and others. She has received fellowships from Cornell University and The University of Virginia, where she earned her BA and MFA respectively. Maria has had quite a few jobs (visual merchandiser, instructor, hotel reviewer) in quite a few cities (New York, Baltimore, Copenhagen) and once on a ship. She enjoys learning new crafts and letting personal projects take over her life. You can visit her online at mariaink.com or on Twitter and Instagram @ink176.
“Maria Adelmann renders the experience of young womanhood so viscerally that I felt I was perched somewhere within her narrators’ brains as I read. The subject matter is often dark, and Adelmann grapples with that darkness fully and beautifully, yet these stories are also bursting with wit and whimsy. Adelmann can tease out both the anguish and perverse humor of a situation in a single dazzling sentence. This collection feels like its own singular world, and I loved being inside of it.”
—Alexis Schaitkin, author of SAINT X
"Adelmann doesn't create rules for the women in her stories, no matter their age. She lets them run rampant, their messiness on full display. Harsh and tender, Adelmann's collection is both an unblinking testament to modern womanhood and a fearless debut."
—Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of PIZZA GIRL
“Bewilderment runs like a ribbon through these stories, locating the surreal in the mundane and tethering fantastical elements to earthly pain. Page after page, I wondered what unexpected truth Adelmann would reveal next. As I watched her characters struggle for answers, I found myself newly uncertain of the certainties I hold most dear. By the end, I felt like the protagonist in one of her stories—hanging upside down in a tree, shaken out, and rearranged.”
—Lulu Miller, author of WHY FISH DON'T EXIST and co-host of Radiolab
“What heart! What power! What wit! The young women in these funny, subversive, poignant stories are shaped by their contradictions and their desires, their fears and their surroundings, and their longing to break away. Through narratives as heartfelt as they are surprising, they search for connection, for a voice, and for purpose in the often-confounding world they move through, in bodies and situations that both betray and astound them. Maria Adelmann is a true storyteller.”
—Natalie Bakopoulos, author of SCORPIONFISH
"Adelmann’s stories feel like intimate secrets whispered in the ear, populated by characters who are occasionally hard to watch but impossible to turn away from. At turns dark, witty, and strange, Girls of a Certain Age is a startling debut from a writer of astonishing talent and vision."—Jung Yun, author of SHELTER
“It’s hard to capture the line a young woman must walk when trying to make sense of belonging. But Maria Adelmann skillfully handles the insecurity of female youth in her collection of stories.”
—CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS
“The stories linger, clearly illuminated by their artistry, honesty, and pervasive courage. A strong debut from a writer who probes the inner lives of her female subjects with both purpose and humor.”
“A dark and tender debut… deep and often terrifying aspects of womens' lives are beautifully portrayed in this collection of stories as Adelmann’s characters grapple with making sense of their world.”—BOOKLIST
“With eyes wide open, Adelmann carefully observes and meticulously records what happens to these girls of a certain age, paying special attention to those too easily ignored, overlooked and dismissed.”