Sweet reads

By JON GARELICK  |  December 17, 2007

Diane Vadino | Smart Girls Like Me
It’s true that Betsy Nilssen, the heroine of Diane Vadino’s debut novel, is a messy, irreverent New Yorker who works in fashion and is clever, confused, and alone. And this is indeed a satire about almost-boyfriends and urban isolation. But Smart Girls transcends the de facto genre categorizations that have become every young coming-of-age writer’s worst nightmare. A 24-year-old assistant editor at a fashion dot-com, Betsy is preparing for several things at once: the end of the world, a quarter-life crisis, and the loss of her steely, alluring best friend. Smart Girls can’t be masked as anything but a book about a girl, her friend, and a boy, though Vadino is too skilled a storyteller to apologize for that. Instead, she forsakes literary gimmicks for the confidence to say the things that one wishes to say the most.

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