So I’ve come across this trend in the lit-fic genre. A disgruntled twenty something year old girl experiencing an identity crisis: Who is she? What is love? People…why can’t I relate to them? Nobody gets me.
This listless twenty something year old girl either goes on a trip, has a bunch of unnecessary meaningless sex, has some weird/nonexistent relationship with her parents, has a mental illness that is never really addressed, or is dealing with the typical woes of what it means to evolve into womanhood. All in the same fashion.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a listless twenty year old manic pixie dream girl without the wish fulfillment! It’s just terribly over done and I’ve already read four books like it.
I love reading about women going through shit. I love unpacking trauma (it helps me understand and navigate my own personal demons).
BUT BUT BUT
It’s really hard to be invested in whiny ‘white’ girl problems. At least Hot Milk felt really vapid and juvenile and whiny and oh my god the protagonist just couldn’t get a grip. Maybe there was some underlying point that I just didn’t get. This book just wasn’t for me at all. Someone out there related to it.
I’m going through it too. Post-grad struggling underpaid twenty something year old girl who makes tons of bad decisions– that’s me. But Hot Milk felt like it was more so trying to copy what it feels like to be a confused young woman versus actually speaking to me. Sweetbitter, with its flaws, spoke to me. Tess had no personality but Stephanie Danler perfectly encapsulated what it is like to be young and clueless. While I disliked Tess, the story was evidently personal to Danler in her writing.
Is there a book equivalent to Oscar baiting? That’s what the entire story felt like. One fake deep moment after another.
I think this is ultimately why I just couldn’t relate to Eve Babitz. Conventionally attractive white woman living it up in LA doing tons of drugs and becoming entangled in messy relationships. That’s not my reality.
Depression and trauma are real things. It felt like Levy didn’t quite understand either of two. Sofia just does a bunch of dumb shit and I didn’t feel like she overcame anything. Mental illness shouldn’t be used to be ‘whimsical’ nor to add to your fake deepness (neither is the random tense changing to symbolize Sofia’s lost track of time). I want this trend to stop. Being depressed isn’t dream like. It’s an illness. Movies do it too. It’s simply a band-aid to hide the fact that a writer has no imagination. Will I read a book by Deborah Levy again? MAYBE. If I’m sold on the synopsis. Otherwise, this book was a miss for me. I was more interested in Gomez and his cat than Sofia and her neurotic mother.
TLDR; You might like this book. If you’re into women staring off into space and contemplating their existence in their world, then sure go for it! Personally this wasn’t my speed and I’m glad to have read it because now I will avoid books like this. I have a better understanding of my taste as a reader. The writing isn’t bad so I couldn’t give it one star. I gave it two.
Keep in mind that opinions are like assholes and I simply have a gaping asshole.
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