Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

In Lorrie Moore's Who Will Run the Frog Hospital, Berie Carr nostalgically remembers the summer of 1972, when she was fifteen and inseparable from her best friend, the beautiful Sils. Berie, a late developer, looks twelve, while Sils, fully developed, looks twenty. Berie adores Sils and basks in the closeness of their relationship.

Berie's well-meaning, but slightly naive parents, give her a wide berth as she takes a summer job at the local amusement park, Storyland, and goes and comes from her parent's home with little supervision. Berie's smarts give her the job of cashier and Sils' looks the job of Cinderella.

This lack of vigilance allows Berie and her equally unsupervised best friend Sils to flirt with all the dangers of restlessness and boredom in two teen girls: cigarette smoking, drinking, hitching rides with older boys, and staying out all night. Since these girls work together, they take cigarette breaks and plot ways to have the best summer of their lives.

Just as the summer is at its height, Sils finds herself in a life-changing situation, and Berie makes a decision that alters her life forever.

A great coming-of-age story, Morrie understands adolescence -- especially the power of friendship -- and she couples this with a wry sense of humor and a keen eye for the details of the age ... from the music choices to the over-the-counter makeup that the girls share. I grinned as I remember these little items of my own past.

I also like this passage at the end of the novel: "You can wake from one dream only to find yourself plunged into yet another, like some endless rosary of the mind. When that happens, it is hard to glimpse what is not dream; the waking, undreamed world flies by you, in rushing flashes of light and air, in loud, quick, dangerous spaces like those between the cars of the train. There is nothing you can do. You walk in the sleep of yourself and wait. You wait for the train to pass."


1 comment:

  1. This sounds a lot better than Chalktown. That one kind of scared me.