In 1988, before her senior year of high school, Nina and her best friend spend the summer alone on Cape Cod. Nina has grown up with her ailing grandmother—and she yearns for the chance of a deeper connection. When she enrolls in an acting course, she soon finds romance with Sarah, one of the teaching assistants.
Nina’s own world revolves around Sarah, while the rest of the world moves urgently on. Nina’s high school teacher does not take the end of their relationship well; her best friend feels abandoned; the AIDS epidemic rages; her fellow actors grow and hone their talents. The novel perfectly captures the revelatory feelings that arrive with young adulthood – the startling awareness of oneself outside the bounds of friends and family, and the twin senses of loneliness and liberation that accompany this knowledge. After a summer of love and loss, Nina slowly finds her way back home.
With lyrical prose, nuanced characters, and an evocative narrative voice, Tamsen Wolff vividly brings to life the dizzying experience of first love—and its inevitable partner, first heartbreak. This honest depiction of female relationships—both romantic and platonic—will capture readers from fifteen to fifty. Juno’s Swans is rich and sharp and emotional in all the right places.
Tamsen Wolff is a professor in Princeton University’s English Department, where she specializes in modern and contemporary drama, voice, directing, and dramaturgy. She has published essays in numerous journals, and is the author of Mendel’s Theatre: Heredity, Eugenics, and Early Twentieth-Century American Drama. Juno’s Swans is her first novel.