gods with a little g

Farrar. Aug. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9780374164461. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374719548. f.
Rosary, CA, is a dead-end town where residents can’t catch a break unless they leave. Few make it farther than the neighboring village of Sky, with the Internet, movie theaters, and a real skyline. Rosario folks are doomed living next to the Rosario Bay Oil Refinery, which gives off constant smoke and flame. Helen Dedleder makes the best of her life with fellow teen outcasts who call themselves the Dickheads. On the cusp of turning 18, they drink beer, experiment with sex, and hang out at Fast Eddie’s Tire Salvage, owned by the unsavory Eddie with a sad past, who provides beer in exchange for a quick look at the girls’ breasts. Helen keeps the books at Aunt Bev’s Psychic Encounter Shoppe and knows her aunt’s behind-the-curtain services bring in more money than the front-room palm readings. Helen’s friends are a constant source of drama. Mo tries to hang herself in Fast Eddie’s garage. Rainbolene needs hormones to make her transition. The law catches up with Winthrop for his past in Alaska. Helen isn’t sure what the future holds when her dad marries Bird’s mother, Iris, but knows they are all in this together.
VERDICT Hassman’s second novel, after her award-winning debut, Girlchild, is witty, irreverent, inventive but above all hopeful with memorable characters who remain with readers long after the novel is finished.

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