- The Whitsun Daughters by Carrie Mesrobian
Mesrobian, Carrie The Whitsun Daughters. Dutton, 2020 [224p] Trade ed. ISBN 9780735231955 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9780735231962 $10.99 Reviewed from digital galleys Ad Gr. 8-12
The three Whitsun girls are loyal, so when fragile Lilah gets pregnant, Poppy, the oldest and by far the boldest, gets the pills—and, if needed, the tools—to induce an abortion, and they hunker down at a neighbor's house to get the deed done. The youngest, fifteen-year-old Daisy, is there for support too, but she's having her own life-changing week, losing her virginity to a guy who's mostly in love with Poppy but is happy to have Daisy in his bed. At the same time Jane, the ghost of an Irish immigrant girl who lived on their land a hundred years ago, stuck in a loveless marriage and embarking on a torrid affair, tells her story in interspersed chapters. Mesrobian strikes a startling balance between earthy imagery and ethereal prose, steeping the reader in the immediate physicality of life, sex, birth, and even death, with delicate turns of phrases. There's little substance to the style, however, with characters generically developed and not a whole lot of action. The waiting might be the point, forcing readers into Lilah's situation, but the entries by Jane then seem an interruption, even if they're more interesting. The focus on Daisy in the present-day chapters makes an interesting perspective, filtering the complexities of new or near adulthood (Poppy is nineteen, Lilah seventeen) through a fully [End Page 487] adolescent lens. Readers of Arnold's What Girls Are Made Of (BCCB 4/17) may appreciate the examination of the traps of girlhood.