Back in July 2007, I added Sheehan's second novel, History Lessons for Girls, to my Amazon TBR list. Only a year and a half or so later, I finally got around to reading it. (I've been trying to clear out my list; I only have 30 books on the list and at least five are soon-to-be-released. Do I just like having a list? Or is it I think I should read these books but secretly don't want to/can't remember why I added them? Hmmm.)
You know, now that I think about it, one reason I wanted to read the book is the cover. It is gorgeous--ethereal and simple and perfect for the book. I love the way the horse's hair is floating. The yellow used also reminds me of the 1970s, which is when this novel occurs.
Simply, the book is about the friendship of Alison Glass and Kate Hamilton. Alison has scoliosis and must wear a back brace. Alison moves to a new school and is made fun of--but Kate sticks up for her and their friendship is born. Both girls appear to have good homes but soon it's clear that neither do.
The story is also about what happens when their parents meet and mingle. I didn't actually like any of the parents, besides Alison's dad. Kate's father is a scam artist--he calls himself "Tut" and is an "Egpytian shaman." Both of the girls' mothers are weak and pulled in by Tut's charisma and claim that the love of acquiring possessions is actually healthy and good. Sheehan definitely satirizes the '70s obsession with New Age and self-love and that whole mindset--Tut, as a symbol of that theme, is eminently despicable.
I didn't love the book but it's well-written and has an excellent theme. I didn't love the book because of the ending, although really, it's clear why it happened. The book lacked hope that the characters could find spiritual healing and fulfillment. I can see why this book won't ever be popular but it's still quality literature.