Aurelie Sheehan has written a touching novel about parents, children and family, as seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl who does not quite fit in with the cool kids. Sheehan’s History Lesson for Girls is about coming of age and the rites of passage.
Alison Glass is the new girl in town, and when you are 13 that alone is enough to cause turmoil in your small world. Alison has none of the appeal that is second nature to some girls, what she does have is a heavy back brace that she has to wear because of her scoliosis. And she has Jazz, her beloved horse who makes everything right with the world.
Set in Connecticut in the mid 70’s History Lesson for Girls takes the reader into Alison’s world of horses, hippie parents, artists, dugs, and growing up too fast, or perhaps not fast enough. Through it all there is Alison’s friendship with Kate. Like many friendships, their improbable and sometimes complicated union is full of secrets, both shared and unshared.
Glimpses into the girls’ lives took me down memory lane time and again. I smiled and loved Alison’s reaction when she hears Donna Summer’s breathy and sexy song, Love to Love You Baby, she and Kate laugh and dance around Kate’s room. But it is not all fun and good times, the two friends deal with personal and family pain, everything from abuse to adultery. The reader stays with Alison and Kate as they inch their way towards becoming women.
If you are a parent thinking you would love to find a novel that you and your daughter can enjoy, I recommend History Lesson for Girls. I generally do not review novels for the Work & Family Site but Aurelie Sheehan’s poignant and thought provoking novel is one that begs to be shared with a daughter, niece, granddaughter or young friend. Sheehan’s poetic, yet comfortable writing style just pulls you in. “I think of Kate all the time. I think of her like I’ve got this little silver Egyptian cat in my pocket, a little silver talisman…The thing is, she saved me that year, and then it was my turn. That’s what friendship is…”.
History Lesson for Girls touches on so many issues, that it is perfect for opening dialogue on subjects you wanted to talk about but did not know how to get the conversation started.
Author Aurelie Sheehan is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. History Lesson for Girls is Sheehan's second novel.
History Lesson for Girls is available from Amazon.com