At the center of this startling fiction debut is Leah Levinson, a teen at sea in the anonymous ordeals of a middle-class upbringing on the Upper West Side in the 1970s. In ten installments, written from varying perspectives, we witness her uneasy relationships with faster, looser peers-girls she is drawn to but also alienated by. No one, though, alienates Leah more than her mother, Helen. Estranged yet intertwined, they struggle within the confines of their personalities, unaware of how similar their paths are. Just when they seem at a lonely impasse, each makes an impulsive change-Leah taking a risky trip abroad, Helen renting a secret room in a welfare hotel. Jolted from their old patterns, the two of them independently glimpse the possibility of a more hopeful life.