No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, September 09, 2012

2012/41: (Re)Cycler -- Lauren McLaughlin girlfriend is cheating on me, my alter ego is playing tongue lacrosse with the dregs of Brooklyn, and her gay boyfriend is trying to be my pal ... [p.89]
Sequel to Cycler, this novel takes up the story some months after Jill's (and Jack's) less-than-perfect prom. Jill is determined to leave the small Massachussetts town where she's grown up, but she's on the horns of a dilemma. Option one is to move to New York with her best friend Ramie, who also happens to be Jack's girlfriend and who has a place at a prestigious fashion and design college. Option two is to head off with Tommy Knutsen, Jill's own more-or-less boyfriend, on a cross-country roadtrip.

It's not an easy decision because Jill (who turns into Jack for four days a month, making common-or-garden PMS seem tame) is basically making the choice for both herself and Jack: "I have to decide which one of us gets a sex life" (p. 5). As it happens, Jill hasn't got around to sex yet. Jack, on the other hand, is determined to make the very most of his four-twenty-eighths of a life ...

New York is enough of a culture shock for Jill, who's a small-town girl at heart: Jack, on the other hand, has only recently experienced anything beyond the confines of Jill's bedroom, where he was locked up with peanut-butter sandwiches and porn for all his phases. He doesn't exactly go wild, but he does meet some young men his own age, who proudly show him their Girl Chart, on which intimate details of various hook-ups are plotted. 'Glad I'm not like that,' thinks Jack blithely.

All isn't sweetness and light with Ramie, who seems to be turning against both Jill (who she thinks is selfish) and Jack (who keeps holding her back) in favour of her new fashion-mentor, Marguerite. Jill is heartbroken over Tommy's departure, and does her best to get over him by flirting with someone of whom Jack very strongly does not approve. And Jack? Jack starts to learn the difference between love and sex, and between ego and liking oneself.

I didn't find this novel as satisfactory as Cycler: there are a lot of interesting sub-plots (Jill's cycle becoming less regular, Jack's relationship with their parents, Ramie's withdrawal) but no real conclusion. Though Jack's starting to grow up -- as Jill points out, he never had to go through childhood, which explains quite a bit of his character -- he has a long way to go. I'd like to read more of their story.

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