The Appetites of Girls
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For the audience that made Commencement a New York Times bestseller comes a novel about women making their way in the world.
Four young women are thrown together as roommates freshman year in college: Ruth, Francesca, Opal, and Setsu. Each is striving to overcome struggles from childhood and find her true self.
Tormented by self-doubt, Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control her. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue family; to provoke them, and to protect herself, she consumes everything in sight. Opal longs to be included in her glamorous, adventure-seeking mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous older brother by allowing him to take away the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future.
As their stories and appetites collide, these women make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood—but each must first find strength and her way in the world.
READERS GUIDE INSIDE
majority of his dinners alone, he said, he was inspired to prepare his favorite dishes. So as soon as we returned home from work, he would turn on a recording of some famous Spanish vocalist or guitarist and begin a slow-cooking stew or casserole—paella or poached fish and potatoes, scallops in tomato sauce. As in Spain, where Carlos had spent the first sixteen years of his life, we ate late and emptied glasses of sherry or sangria while pots bubbled on the stove, roasting pans simmered in the
talks of her work, her most recent cases at Bausch and Firth, where, since finishing law school, she has practiced as a women’s rights advocate, the same flames ignite her words as they did long ago. Still, who could have expected this kind of celebration from the Francesca I lived with throughout our years at Brown? On the night the four of us first met, she had rolled her eyes when Setsu and I admitted that we hoped, before graduating, we might find true love, the men we would marry, even share
was scheduled to leave on a Saturday in the final week of August. Eight days away. Hot, breezeless days that I thought would stretch forever. The night I’d returned from Raymond’s bungalow I had drawn closed the linen curtains in my bedroom, folding their ruffled ends under the screen. But now and then, in the following days, the material would fly open without warning, revealing an unexpected glimpse of Raymond’s cabin, triggering another bout of shaking I could do nothing to quell. I spent
long gold crossed sticks. Her back was to me as I approached. Otherwise, perhaps, she would have stopped James’s hand, which slid down the center of her back along the zipper of her dress, until it rested on the soft of her backside. She did not flinch, so accustomed was she to his touch, I imagined. I thought of the party we’d thrown in our suite and then, for a moment, of the men at Paradise Jungle, at how their nearness had made me jumpy. Setsu’s only movement was a slight shift toward James
turning onto Fieldston Road, to the Fieldston section of Riverdale with all of its large homes of stone or brick or stucco, grander than Leonid and Nadia’s house in Scarsdale, a world just minutes from our apartment but one that I’d rarely entered. That first Monday I had six courses to attend. The school had mailed me a copy of my weekly schedule, and on its grid of squares Mama had color-coded each subject—yellow for history, blue for math, red for English, and so on—making it simpler for me