About a Girl, by Sarah McCarry (Metamorphoses, Book 3)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (July 14, 2015)
Page Count: 272 pages
Genre: Lesbian (F/F) Romance; Transgender (M/F) Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Summary: Eighteen-year-old Tally is absolutely sure of everything: her genius, the love of her adoptive family, the loyalty of her best friend, Shane, and her future career as a Nobel prize-winning astronomer. There’s no room in her tidy world for heartbreak or uncertainty–or the charismatic, troubled mother who abandoned her soon after she was born. But when a sudden discovery upends her fiercely ordered world, Tally sets out on an unexpected quest to seek out the reclusive musician who may hold the key to her past–and instead finds Maddy, an enigmatic and beautiful girl who will unlock the door to her future. The deeper she falls in love with Maddy, the more Tally begins to realize that the universe is bigger–and more complicated–than she ever imagined.
My Thoughts: A gorgeous, spell-binding novel that weaves the story of a young woman’s coming of age with the fantastical magic of Greek mythology. McCarry is as brilliant as her character Tally is, and she uses words like the spells of the Greek gods, ensnaring readers until they lose track of time and the outside world. An absolutely gorgeous finale to the Metamorphoses trilogy!
A quick warning: You can read this novel without having read the first two in the trilogy, but it won’t be nearly as enjoyable. I strongly recommend reading at least Book 1 before reading this one. (Book 2 is a chronological prequel to Book 1, and does not impact this story as much.)
Atalanta has no mother; rather, she had a mother, who abandoned her on a doorstep shortly after birth (like something “straight out of the Old Testament“). But now she has her Aunt Beast (her mother’s childhood friend, from McCarry’s All Our Pretty Songs), her Uncle Raoul, and Raoul’s husband Henri. She is secure in who she is now, and in who she will be in the future: an astronomer– “if one’s inclination is toward the romantic and nonspecific“– and with her best friend Shane at her side. But the mystery of her past is a lure that she can’t turn away from, and the chance to meet the man who might be her father is one she has to take.
When Tally travels from New York City to an isolated island outside of Seattle, she pictures it as her own mythological quest. She’s leaving behind troubled memories (a passionate night with Shane that might have ended their decade-long friendship), and hopes to find the answers to questions she’s had all her life. But what she’s looking for isn’t what she encounters.
There is a lot of mythology here. Some of it I recognized from elementary school picture books, or university classes about the Classics, but much of it was as mysterious to me as it was to Tally. McCarry writes a world where the gods and legends of times long past mingle unhappily among us mere mortals, and where nothing is at it seems. Tally is a scientist; she only believes that which can be proven, and her brushes with the magical leave her scared and confused.
I’ll say right now that McCarry (and, by extension, Tally) is much smarter than I am. I discovered that originally when reading All Our Pretty Songs, and it’s only reinforced in About a Girl. But McCarry doesn’t make her readers feel stupid; instead, I felt almost enlightened. Okay, that sounds cheesy, but I don’t have the words to explain it.
This is a beautiful novel that follows Tally’s journey to find herself. Her feelings for Shane and Maddy guide her, and lead her to realize that she doesn’t know as much about herself or the world around her as she’d previously believed.