By Dorothy Allison
I've always felt there were many seminal coming-of-age stories about young boys, but no one great American novel about a young girl's—until I read this book. It follows Ruth Anne Boatwright's struggle to become a young woman, to find her place within the large Boatwright family, and to deal with her increasingly abusive stepfather. I loved Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding, but I felt that this story was stronger and deeper and rougher and truer. It's just a brilliant novel.