Families are a complicated thing, even during the best of times. In her first novel, “Girls Like Her,” Pam Stone creates a dysfunctional family trying their best to pretend they are completely functional. More than just the rifts that make up the family’s dynamics is each member’s personal problems and clashing wills.
Lissie has just turned 70. She raised two kids on her own, helped care for her parents, and fought back breast cancer. When the opportunity comes for Lissie to pursue a lifelong dream of hers, she decides to uproot herself and take the chance. While most of her family is surprised but supportive, Lissie’s daughter stands as a vehement opposition.
This sets off the rest of the story, following Lissie and her two grown up progeny, David and Leigh, through this rocky phase of their relationship. David, going through problems of his own, is unable to understand his sister’s attachment to their mother’s house, which she planned on selling. And with no regard to anyone else’s feelings, Leigh starts on a path that would destroy her relationships if it meant getting her way.
While Stone created a relatively small cast, she has them all interact in ways that allow the readers to see their many sides and come to understand their motivations. Her writing is expressive without being longwinded, and everything the audience reads has reason.
The plot is kept realistic and relatable, even if Leigh is impossible to like. Different wrenches are consistently thrown into the mix, and throughout these smaller problems, slowly the cast grows.
A solution to the overarching issue seems to steadily come into view as the family works through each predicament.
Stone brought various tribulations into her novel, all of which can have an effect on daily life,from clinical depression to divorce. No one dilemma ever really takes the front stage either, and instead we find Stone’s characters working with the problem or finding their way around it, all for the hope of resolution.
The story’s progress takes place over a year, and gradually the each individual’s development becomes more obvious, but Stone doesn’t hold her audience’s hand and walk them through it.
The ending is satisfying, with each character having matured and now ready to take on the next step in their lives. And in keeping with the down to earth tone, this family still has room to grow, and now time to heal.
In her first novel, Stone successfully creates a complex cast, all with their own strengths and weaknesses. With such vivid writing and a character driven plot that tugs on heartstrings, hopefully Stone is only just starting her novel career.
If You Read
Title: Girls Like Her
Author: Pam Stone
Publisher: Stone’s Throw Publishing
Length: 357 pages