All the Finest Girls

by Alexandra Styron

I found this novel, the story of Adelaide “Addy” Abraham, to be an extremely difficult read, and as I’ve analyzed it, I’ve realized it was because I found the main character annoying. Addy is the daughter of an actress and an artist who are both too self-absorbed to have any clue of how to be parents, so they hire Lou, recently arrived from the Caribbean island of St. Clair, to be her nanny. As the novel opens, however, we are introduced to an adult Addy, a broken, sour person, who has come for Lou’s funeral.

The novel flips between Addy’s present – the funeral and her interactions with Lou’s family, who are polite, but don’t hail her as the visiting dignitary she imagined herself to be – and two different parts of Addy’s past, her adulthood including a sort of influenza-induced breakdown, and her childhood, which often found her pitting Lou and her parents against each other.

By the time a fragile, broken Addy makes peace with her even more broken parents, the novel has ended, and while the language used within it was vivid, the places realistic, and the characters plausible, I found the whole book to be…somehow missing something.

Or maybe I was missing something.