Book Review: Paulina & Fran

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A story of friendship, art, sex, and curly hair: an audaciously witty debut tracing the pas de deux of lust and love between two young, uncertain, conflicted art students. 

At their New England art school, Paulina and Fran both stand apart from the crowd. Paulina is striking and sexually adventurous—a self-proclaimed queen bee with a devastating mean-girl streak. With her gorgeous untamed head of curly hair, Fran is quirky, sweet, and sexually innocent. An aspiring painter whose potential outstrips her confidence, she floats dreamily through criticisms and dance floors alike. On a school trip to Norway, the girls are drawn together, each disarmed by the other’s charisma.

Though their bond is instant and powerful, it’s also wracked by complications. When Fran winds up dating one of Paulina’s ex-boyfriends, an incensed Paulina becomes determined to destroy the couple, creating a rift that will shape their lives well past the halcyon days of art school. 

Crackling with bon mots and knowing snapshots of that moment when the carefree cocoon of adolescence opens into the permanent, unknowable future, Paulina & Fran is both a sparkling dance party of a novel, and the debut novel of a writer with rare insight into the complexities of obsession, friendship, and prickly, ever-elusive love.

How is it to read: An easy read. Well-written. Gripping enough so you don't want to put it down. Comfortable enough so you want to cozy up in bed with it. Uncomfortable enough so you can't stop thinking about it. 

Characters: You build a real relationship with the characters, I found myself genuinely caring about their well-being even though they aren't perfect. In fact, sometimes I actually hated them. Both of them. They're self-manipulative which is...relatable... and you, as a reader, know both of the girls' perspectives, which makes you want to reach in and tell them what the other person thinks because they just need to hear it, being too proud to open up to each other.

Mood/Atmosphere: Bittersweet. It's comfortable and it makes you deeply uncomfortable at the same time. Kind of the way life feels. The uncertainty of the future is a state me and my fellow early twenties people are in and it can feel very scary and you can feel very lost a lot of the time. This book portraits that quite perfectly. It's also very funny!

The end: The end of a book is very important to me. If it sucks, that's how I'll remember it. The end of this book is perfect even though it's a little frustrating. Well, very frustrating! But it feels so real and not forced as a story often ties to tie a nice bow with a happy ending. This one is like real life, you don't know what happens after it ends and that's okay.

The Author: This is Rachel B. Glasers debut novel, which is amazing, I'm very excited to see what's to come from her.

I would recommend for: Anyone. Maybe from the age of 16 (there's quite a bit of sex) and having an interest in art, but that's not even necessary.

If you read the book, how did you like it? If you haven't, are you thinking about it?


Emma x