By FRANCINE PROSE Joanne Kaufman and NATALIE DANFORD
Updated June 05, 2006 12:00 PM
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by Curtis Sittenfeld

REVIEWED BY NATALIE DANFORD

NOVEL

Sittenfeld writes gracefully about awkward Hannah Gavener in this novel-in-stories follow-up to her best-selling novel Prep. In 1991, 14-year-old Hannah is enchanted by the upcoming nuptials of Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland, though she’s had a front-row seat at a show of how poorly love can pan out: She’s boarding with relatives while her mom leaves her angry father. Skip to the next tale, five years later, and Hannah is a misfit college student who dulls her loneliness with cough syrup. In the final section, a grown Hannah endures her mother’s remarriage. Sittenfeld’s writing is skillful—breathtakingly so in the last chapter, a letter from Hannah to her former shrink. Reading about Hannah offers the same comfort as running into an old friend and discovering that while her life hasn’t turned out the way she planned, she’s still doing okay.

[STARS 3]