Review: The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe

The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe

Title: The Girls from Corona del Mar
Author: Rufi Thorpe
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: Hutchinson (14th August 2014)
Source: Chloe from @WindmillBooks

‘Why did Lorrie Ann look graceful in beat-up Keds and shorts a bit too small for her? Why was it charming when she snorted from laughing too hard? Yes, we were jealous of her, and yet we did not hate her. She was never so much as teased by us, we roaming and bratty girls of Corona del Mar, thieves of corn nuts and orange soda, abusers of lip gloss and foul language.’

An astonishing debut about friendship made in youth, The Girls from Corona del Mar is a fiercely beautiful novel about how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or endure.

Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends; hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can’t quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend’s life. Then a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall further – and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, kind, brave Lorrie Ann stops being to good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is, and what that question means about them both.

A staggeringly honest, deeply felt novel of family, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship, The Girls from Corona del Mar asks just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.

Rating: *** (3 stars)

THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR is Rufi Thorpe’s debut novel. It tells the story of Mia’s friendship with Lorrie Ann from their late teens to their late twenties. Thorpe explores the friendship of two Southern Californian nineties girls as they grow-up and experience different things and become different people.

Thorpe’s THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR is a novel which I like in spite of myself. There is something strangely compelling about Mia’s narrative voice as she looks back at her friendship with the saintly Lorrie Ann. Despite finding both Mia and Lorrie Ann repugnant to varying degrees, I was compelled to continue the story and find out what happened next to them. Mia and Lorrie Ann’s friendship is very complicated one, and as it unfolds on the pages of the novel it is impossible to look away from.

THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR is very much Mia’s story; at no point does Thorpe give us anything from Lorrie Ann’s point of view. By doing this Thorpe allows us to join Mia in her journey as she dissects her friendship with Lorrie Ann. I think this worked quite well, as I found Mia to be an interesting narrator – though I’m not sure how reliable a narrator she was. I’m also not sure if I do want to know things from Lorrie Ann’s point of view, because honestly I found her a really difficult character to like at any point in the story.

This review is quite difficult to write because I don’t normally read novels like THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR, yet I found the story a strangely likeable one. This book is in a lot of ways quite literary, which is a genre I seldom delve into as such novels require you to think in order to enjoy them. THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR is definitely a thinking book. If contemporary literary fiction interests you then you should give this book a try.

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