I was never sure which attracted me more: the totally wrong brother-sister love affair in Flowers in the Attic or the cool, metallic cover with a creepy mansion where Cathy peeked out, her face contorted with unspeakable terror. I spent a lot of seventh grade with that book—reading it, enjoying the feeling of being afraid, secretly aflutter "down there" and full of desperate longing all at the same time. Like all my friends, I tore through the next three in the series.
And then I grew up.
At last, a book that captures all those same feelings, only with exquisitely written literary prose. Rebecca Wolff's The Beginners debuts this week—a novel about Ginger, a shy 15-year-old girl who befriends the Motherwells, a new couple in her tiny Massachusetts town who may or may not be ghosts from the Puritan witch-burning past, live humans with sociopath tendencies, or just young, beautiful, magnetic 20-somethings with some questionable values. As Ginger gets more and more involved with the twosome, I found myself similarly enthralled. What did these very grown-up adults want with this girl? What were they going to do with her? The real mystery, though, had less to with the Motherwell's dark designs and more to do with tentative, starstruck Ginger, who so willingly adapts herself to their every need. Wolff captures the awakening of this dreamy, shy girl so perfectly and acutely, you might just shiver—not only from fear but recognition.