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Rowena’s Page by S. D. Youngren

Mostly-funny short stories about a young woman's life. 

Rowena has a mother:

    “This is my life, Mom. Not a Jane Austen novel. Not—”

    “Listen to me, Miss Independence. He’s a nice young man, but men expect things. Even nice ones, sometimes. He’s going to think that you’re inviting him to do . . . married people things.” Rowena tried to interrupt, but when she opened her mouth nothing came out. “And when he’s there being forceful and everything, don’t come crying to me.” Rowena tried taking a deep breath and sitting up very straight. “And, anyway,” her mother said, “Jane who?”

Rowena has a sister:

    “Maralynne. Let me explain something to you. Sammy is not a saint and he is not a celebrity and he hasn’t discovered a cure for cancer. Got that? He does happen to be your sister’s boyfriend, but what that means is you should be leaving him alone because a) he’s not available, and b) attempting to steal things from your sister is mean, even when you don’t succeed.”

    “Don’t suc—” Maralynne stopped abruptly, then tried a different tack. “Who said anything about stealing?”

Rowena has a job:

    Marjorie grinned at her. “He stole your report so you’d have to go talk to him,” she said. Rowena groaned.

    “And you let him?”

    Marjorie shifted her gum. “This is fun,” she said. “The soaps just aren’t the same when you have to watch ’em at night.”

Rowena has some friends:

    Rowena raised her cup. “Here’s to the teddies,” she said. “Here’s to Aunt Irene’s duplicate coffee machines and Uncle Milo’s computer-printout Christmas letters.”

    Terese raised what was left of her cappuccino. “Here’s to the yellow parakeet Dad bought Mom thinking it was a canary,” she said. “Here’s to the kids who play with the boxes instead of the presents.”

    “Here’s to the stale popcorn they eat off the string,” said Rowena. Suddenly a hand appeared in front of her, holding a glass one-third full of orange juice. “To the meaning of Christmas,” said a voice. “And to Santas who never fill your stocking with coal no matter what you’ve done.”

Rowena has a . . . life.

Note: Rowena’s Page contains some graphic sexual content and harsh language.


A series

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Listed: Aug 10, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

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Editor’s First Impression

By Linda Schoales, editor

Aug 9, 2010: The first chapter feels painfully, wincingly real. A young woman has cooked dinner for her parents. When they arrive, her father heads straight for the TV, and her mother starts "helping" in the kitchen. Almost too familiar to be funny.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Pages and Pages

By G.S. Williams, author of The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin

Sep 15, 2011: "Rowena’s Page" has short stories in the life of the titular character, going back as far as 2000. So there is quite a lot to read through.

From the chapters I’ve seen, it’s worth reading if you like a slice of life kind of story. Rowena comes across as a very personable real-life sort of character—she has annoying parents, a New Age-believing sister, and an inane job. The chapters are whimsical and fun, without being too heavy. Each one has its own snippet of individual entertainment, so it’s not like you really need to read all of them to know what’s going on.

Kind of like a sitcom, you can sit back and enjoy without thinking too much. However, the more you read, the more the characters accumulate personality and depth, simply because the stories layer atop one another.

The first few episodes are fairly cliche—mother too helpful in the kitchen, father watching football, sister believing her guru about having a baby (when Rowena’s certain the guru just wants money)—but the whimsical character of Rowena and the author start to shine especially when Rowena goes to work and it’s so surreal she’s not certain if it’s a dream. The farcical, strange elements make the real-life scenes even more entertaining, as if Rowena has to retreat into surreality to escape the craziness of her real life.

It’s worth checking out.

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