Boys and Girls Like You and Me

By Aryn Kyle

(Scribner, $14, 225 pages)

Who is this author?

She grew up in Colorado and attended the writing program at the University of Montana, so Aryn Kyle’s name may not be familiar to you. But it should be: she is a promising young writer who has already achieved notable success. Her debut novel, “The God of Animals,” which began as a short story, won a 2004 National Magazine Award for fiction, and in 2005, she won the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, which goes to emerging women writers “who demonstrate exceptional talent and promise.” Her work has been published in many top literary journals, including The Georgia Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New American Voices 2005 and Ploughshares.

Her second book, “Boys and Girls Like You and Me,” is now out in paperback.

What is this book about?

The book is a collection of 11 short stories whose theme is the struggles – not always successful – of girls and young women (and in one case, a boy) to navigate the tricky waters from childhood to adulthood. The opening story, “Brides,” exposes the dark underbelly of teen theater, a place “High School Musical” and “Glee” don’t go near. In “Nine,” a girl with an alarming propensity for making stuff up tries for an alliance with her dad’s girlfriend. “Sex Scenes from a Chain Bookstore” explores employer-employee relations in a hilarious, if disturbing way. In “Allegiance,” a British émigré gets a crash course in becoming a “mean girl.” All these stories “probe the frequently wrongheaded choices girls and young women make to feel happy and loved,” says Publishers Weekly.

Why you’ll like it:

Kyle, who is 34, is close enough in age to her protagonists to fully understand how their need for love and acceptance can often lead down dangerous paths. She writes about them with affection and bittersweet humor, making them believable and touching in their vulnerability. You’ll wish you could warn them away from their bad choices, while appreciating the needs that drive them to make their mistakes.

What others are saying:

“There is an almost perverse artistry at work here, however, and at least two of the stories—“Nine” and “A Lot like Fun”—are near-perfect exercises in persuading readers that the hallmark of human nature is imperfectability and that truth is its ultimate falsehood,” says Michael Cart for Booklist.

-Caroline Leavitt, author of “Girls in Trouble,” says:  “In this absolutely knockout collection, Kyle channels girls (and women) on the verge—of making big mistakes, tumbling into the wrong kind of love, and reevaluating everything they ever thought they knew about themselves and the world. Brilliantly funny and moving, Kyle shocks and surprises in a voice that’s indelibly her own. Loved, loved, loved this book.”

“No one captures millennial adolescence quite like Aryn Kyle…”Boys and Girls Like You and Me “features young women making their way in an America of stultifying suburban sameness…who go to ruthless lengths to get what they want…Kyle, a wonderfully mordant and unshowy writer who clearly remembers what it’s like to be simultaneously too young to know better and wise beyond one’s years, gives voice to their floating malaise,”   says Vogue

When is it available?

It’s available now for readers like you and me at the Hartford Public Library.

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