The Girls from Corona del Mar
By Rufi Thorpe
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780385351966, 256pp.)
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
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“Why did Lorrie Ann look graceful in beat-up Keds and shorts a bit too small for her? Why was it charming when she snorted from laughing too hard? Yes, we were jealous of her, and yet we did not hate her. She was never so much as teased by us, we roaming and bratty girls of Corona del Mar, thieves of corn nuts and orange soda, abusers of lip gloss and foul language.”
An astonishing debut about friendships made in youth, The Girls from Corona del Mar is a fiercely beautiful novel about how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or endure.
Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can’t quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend’s life. Then a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall further—and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, brave, fair Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is, and what that question means about them both.
A staggeringly honest, deeply felt novel of family, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship, The Girls from Corona del Mar asks just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.
RUFI THORPE received her MFA from the University of Virginia in 2009. A native of Corona del Mar, California, she currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son. The Girls from Corona del Mar is her first novel.
Praise for The Girls from Corona del Mar:
Long Listed for the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Prize
Long Listed for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
A July Indie Next Pick
An Amazon July Best of the Month
“Thorpe's story, though beautifully embellished with international settings and Sumerian legend, is a simple one about the dramas of long-term friendship, its importance and poignancy, its difficulties and disappointments . . . None of us like to remember that our friends change in ways we can't control; worse, that we may not know them that well to begin with . . . The Girls From Corona del Mar is a slim book that leaves a deep impression. Mia and Lorrie Ann are vivid and fully formed, and their stories provoke strong emotions that linger like lived memory. Thorpe is a gifted writer who depicts friendship with affection and brutality, rendering all its love and heartbreak in painstaking strokes.”
—Steph Cha, La Times
“Just when you believe the ubiquitous ‘literature is dead’ declarations are true, there comes a novel like The Girls from Corona del Mar…It’s hard to believe that The Girls from Corona del Mar is Rufi Thorpe’s first novel — she writes like someone who has been through the wringer, like writers of the past who wrote because they needed to, because they had a problem with the way life was and had to tell someone. The Girls from Corona del Mar belongs in a different era, like something that could have been written during the days of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. It’s about two people, who despite the promises that life once held for them, continue on, for better and for worse, to try and capture a dream.”
—Andrew Blom, Boston Herald
"A knockout of a debut novel. . . Pugnacious, risk-taking Mia, a child of divorce, grows up envious of Lorrie Ann, with her intact family and her elegant, upturned nose. Then in their junior year of high school, everything changes when a family tragedy strikes, marking “the first tap-tap on Lorrie Ann’s windowpane by those bad luck vultures” . . . Thorpe is too firmly in control to let an abundance of plot points crowd out her narrative’s deeper meanings. Her worldly, rambunctious, feminist, morally interrogative prose style galvanizes every episode with smart, almost cosmic insights, tough talk, elegiac moments of love, dumb wonder, and, of course, further tragic events. . . We can’t help but root for these memorable heroines, and Thorpe’s beautiful twist of an ending is admirably earned."
—Lisa Shea, Elle
"Lorrie Ann and Mia are best friends defined by their differences: Lorrie Ann is beautiful, serene, a rule follower; Mia is fierce, with a recklessness that passes for bravado. Both end up pregnant before graduation, but it's sweet Lorrie Ann whose life is haunted by "the vultures of bad luck." Girls' raw, lyrical tone resonates--a gratifyingly honest dispatch from the battlelines of young womanhood."
—Leah Greenblat, Entertainment Weekly
"I love childhood BFF novels (hello, Judy Blume!). This one's adult and enchanting."
—Megan Angelo, Glamour
"There is no bond as meaningful to a woman as that with her best friend, especially the one she grew up with, and Rufi Thorpe’s debut novel beautifully explores that relationship—the tie that binds even as women grow up and apart. . . Lorrie Ann seems perfect, the beautiful, charming girl who’ll take the world by storm, but as she and her best friend Mia get older, they endure loss, illness, distance, parenthood, and life paths neither ever expected. But their friendship, battered and confused as it may become, endures, captured with lyrical authenticity by Thorpe."
"[A] debut novel takes the age-old tale of childhood friendship between the bad girl and the good girl and asks, What happens with the good girl falls from her throne?"
—Tori Tefler, Bustle
"Thorpe is a skilled writer . . . The author’s prose embodies a grace and subtle flourish . . . Thorpe provides a thoughtful examination of the enduring and complicated dance of friendship between two women. She offers up complex characters that live life fully—and at times, self-destructively—and how the two play off one another. Taken altogether, The Girls from Corona del Mar explores how Mia remembers and forgets."
—S. Kirk Walsh, Virginia Quarterly Review
"Elegant yet intense . . . The Girls from Corona del Mar spans multiple births, deaths, continents, and love affairs as Mia does the difficult work of looking back on her friendship with Lorrie Ann . . . Thorpe writes descriptive and unhurried sentences, and the character of Lorrie Ann feels alternately vivid and hazy, lovable and loathsome . . . Take the time to get to know The Girls from Corona del Mar and contemplate the beautiful and thorny—even agonizing—sides of friendship."
"This literary novel will leave readers questioning the myths and realities of complicated friendships."
"Read it before everyone else does! I like this book a lot. The older and older I get (I mean, I’m not very old, but still), I feel more of a disconnect with my friends and people I used to know well. I don’t know. It just happens. You start working, you move to a different city, and suddenly you’re just not living the same life with the same people. It’s sad, but it’s normal. That’s why I like to keep books like these around, to remind me that relationships are very real and meaningful and important."
—Gina Vaynshteyn, Hello Giggles
"Mia envies her best friend Lorrie Ann as they grow up in a California suburb. But Mia has no choice but to turn to her for help getting an abortion when she becomes pregnant at 15. As adults, life is almost unbearably cruel to Lorrie Ann, and when the two meet again decades later, she is addicted to heroin. Mia, meanwhile, is having a very nice life indeed. Can their friendship find new meaning in the turmoil of profoundly changed circumstances?"
—NY Daily News
"The divergent paths of two girls raised in a Southern California beach town plot the course for Thorpe's affecting debut novel. . . Thorpe unflinchingly examines the psychological tug-of-war between friends, and delves in to the pro-choice debate and issues relating to medical malpractice to give the personal narrative heft. The result is a nuanced portrait of two women who are sisters in everything but name."
"Rufi Thorpe had me at the first line in her funny, sad, delightful debut novel, The Girls from Corona del Mar. A story about friendship, love, loss, and the sheer unexpectedness of life. Reading this book was like getting to know old friends; I was sorry when I turned the last page."
—Anton DiSclafani, bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
"Rufi Thorpe's open-hearted, open-eyed debut tells the engrossing story of a long friendship between two complex women and investigates the unpredictable, often baffling ways that luck shapes all of our lives. Generous, soulful, and tough."
—Maggie Shipstead, bestselling author of Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me
“I could say this is a remarkable debut by a gifted new voice in fiction; or that it’s a beautiful, nuanced portrait of a difficult friendship; or that it has something entirely new to say about how we approach and occupy motherhood. But really, what’s most impressive is its incredible vitality, its searing intensity. Turn off your phone and let it take you.”
—Ann Packer, bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier and Swim Back to Me
“The Girls from Corona del Mar is one of those rare books that breaks down the wall between reality and fiction; the entire time I read this book I ached as if it were my own best friend whose life was unraveling before me. Day and night I thought of her—I still think of her! Rufi Thorpe is a brilliant writer and this is a beautiful first book.”
—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, bestselling author of The Language of Flowers
“The Girls from Corona del Mar is unflinchingly realistic in its portrayal of life's twists and turns. Yet it's also full of heart. As Thorpe chronicles a complicated friendship across decades, continents and reversals in fortune, she brings to life two unforgettable characters.”
—J. Courtney Sullivan, bestselling author of Maine and The Engagements