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Serious Girls    by Maxine Swann order for
Serious Girls
by Maxine Swann
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover
* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Maxine Swann debuts in Serious Girls, delving into the lives of two teenagers in boarding school. Sixteen-year-olds Maya and Roe come from different backgrounds but share a passion to 'experience life.' They both feel like outcasts at the all-girls boarding school, neither feeling like she fits in with the rest of the students. So, when Maya and Roe meet for the first time, they quickly form an intense friendship as they explore the adult world.

The story is told from Maya's perspective. She and Roe forge notes to get weekend and day passes outside of the school - they take a bus and explore city life. After eating in diners and shopping in a thrift store (one of Roe's favorite pastimes), the girls quickly move on to 'bigger things' during their ventures into the city, discovering that they can purchase alcohol and cigarettes underage. Not surprisingly, it is only a matter of time until men enter the picture. Maya and Roe each form a relationship, although neither seems to be interested in falling in love. If anything, these relationships are simply another vehicle for Maya and Roe to 'experience real life.' However, this does not mean that the girls are particularly enjoying their new experiences. While Maya and Roe do try a lot of new things, the question quickly becomes whether they have bitten off more than they can chew, so to speak.

This is a serious adult novel for fans of literary fiction. I particularly enjoyed reading about Maya's grandmother, who is an eccentric, interesting character. Swann has a talent for writing from the perspective of a teenage girl on the verge of womanhood and I enjoyed reading about Maya and Roe, despite the struggles and the risks that they take in Serious Girls.

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