“Pizza Girl” by Jean Kyoung Frazier – book review

I’ve known so many self-destructive and obsessive people in my life – including, perhaps, myself when I younger – that Pizza Girl resonated with me.

Despite having a loving mother and devoted boyfriend, the narrator – a pregnant 18-year-old who works at a pizzeria – is unhappy without knowing why.

Haunted by the thought of turning out like her dead alcoholic father, she seems uninterested in almost everything – except Jenny, a messed up customer new to town who calls every week to request pickles on her pepperoni pizza in order to placate her young son, who won’t eat anything else.

As the unnamed narrator (her name’s only revealed at the end) rapidly becomes obsessed with Jenny, she tunes out her mother and boyfriend while escalating her pregnant drinking, despite feeling guilty about it.

In short, it’s a coming-of-age novel about a highly flawed character who has good intentions but continually screws up, and then hates herself for it. It’s not a perfect novel by any means – some characters aren’t as fully realised as they should be (for example, her loving, unbelievably nice and gentle boyfriend seemed … well, a little too unbelievably nice and gentle to me) – but the narrator herself came across so strongly, and the writing was so tight and moving, that I found myself swept along anyway.

It’s also a ridiculously easy book to read. While writing this review I realised how grim this book must sound, and yet it doesn’t read that way at all: instead, it has an almost breezy flow to it.

In short, as a highly flawed character myself, I found myself loving this debut novel. 

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