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In this collection of award-winning short stories, men, women and teenagers from London to Boston to Hiroshima to India grapple with the unpredictability of their lives. A teenager receives a gun from his best friend when he finds out his girlfriend has been unfaithful. A teacher in Hiroshima finds herself acting in a live sex show. A young man fakes an act of heroism at the George Washington Bridge so he can be famous. A hostess in a Wonderland-themed amusement park loses her identity to become the “perfect” Alice. And, in the Pushcart Prize-awarded title story, a group of disenfranchised young adults try to make sense of the artificial world that is Los Angeles.
When Rachel Harris's mother runs off to Spain with the super of their New York City apartment building, Rachel's life takes a bizarre turn. Her eccentric father becomes obsessed with George Vasquez, the man who stole his wife: He wears George's clothes, he shaves with his razor, and, to top it off, he moves George's family into their apartment. The poignant and often funny journey Rachel and her father take to Madrid to hunt down her mother further cements her desire to shake her more than unusual family situation and find a new identity.
And who has a more perfect life than Olivio and Edwin Butler? So gorgeous and popular, they don't really have friends, just hangers-on. And though Rachel doesn't remember ever having spoken a word to them, her resolve becomes clear. She must find a way into the Butlers' home and into their family.
In this marvelously compassionate first novel, Penny Jackson deftly depicts a young girl's search for family - and her discovery that family is a state of mind.