A subversive and often funny exercise in style, voice in particular, with a narrator who pushes unreliability to an extreme.
Hollywood might call this novel “high concept,” with a premise that is as simple as it is outlandish. A 25-year-old woman with no apparent ambition or direction (but with attitude to burn) finds the inspiration that her life has been lacking in an adventure novel typically read (if read at all) by much younger boys. Why Treasure Island? Why not? For the unnamed narrator of this debut novel, the book forces her to confront the essential challenge of her existence: “How can I become a hero of my own life?” It also provides her with what she perceives to be its core values: “BOLDNESS. RESOLUTION. INDEPENDENCE. HORN-BLOWING.” Her attempts to incorporate each of these values into her daily living (the horn-blowing is a bit of a stretch) quickly cost her the latest in her series of dead-end jobs, a boyfriend who is more responsible than she but no more ambitious, a best friend whose loyalty seems suspect, a therapist she can no longer afford to pay and whatever trust remains with her very different sister. But at least she gains a parrot in the process, though the bird proves to be more trouble than the narrator feels that it is worth. Though this is a short novel, and a pretty slight one, the complications compound and narrative momentum accelerates once the unemployed protagonist moves back home, with her parrot, her novel and her conviction that Treasure Island remains the key to whatever purpose her life has. Soon enough, she has made the lives of every member of her family as dysfunctional as her own.
This novel might have something to say about gender roles, the relationship between literature and life or other standard themes, but mainly it’s just a hoot.