Book Review

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

Pizza Girl is a very well written book with a story I didn't care for. I can appreciate the skill with which Frazier conveys the listlessness, anxiety, and obsession of a closeted pregnant teen girl. But I spent most of the book clutching my pearls and screaming, "STOP MAKING BAD CHOICES!" It reminded me a lot of a lesbian Juno.

In the tradition of audacious and wryly funny novels like The Idiot and Convenience Store Woman comes the wildly original coming-of-age story of a pregnant pizza delivery girl who becomes obsessed with one of her customers.

Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl in suburban Los Angeles, our charmingly dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She’s grieving the death of her father (who she has more in common with than she’d like to admit), avoiding her supportive mom and loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.

Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighborhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickled covered pizzas for her son’s happiness. As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other towards middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.

Bold, tender, propulsive, and unexpected in countless ways, Jean Kyoung Frazier’s Pizza Girl is a moving and funny portrait of a flawed, unforgettable young woman as she tries to find her place in the world.

Goodreads

Pizza Girl is a very well written book with a story I didn’t care for. I can appreciate the skill with which Frazier conveys the listlessness, anxiety, and obsession of a closeted pregnant teen girl. But I spent most of the book clutching my pearls and screaming, “STOP MAKING BAD CHOICES!” It reminded me a lot of a lesbian Juno.

This is a book that handles generational trauma and the fear of becoming the parent who neglected you (as you actively neglect your fetus by drinking excessively while pregnant oh my god!!) through a protagonist who survives life by escaping it. During this novel, her escape takes the form of a middle aged mother who orders pickle pizza every Wednesday. Jane’s obsession with Jenny is deep, earthy, and kind of sweet in a weird way. She fantasizes about them breathing into each other’s mouth, hot and meaty. Very visceral, weirdly sexual….fun! But her obsession grows to the point of danger, both to herself and others, and with no real consequences. I did not know what this book was trying to tell me, other than the fact that life is complicated and difficult.

The characters are realistic, sad, and well constructed. Jane makes all the wrong decisions and doesn’t appreciate any of the good things around her. What can I say? This is a book that captures the emotions of a teenager perfectly, and I am now mom-aged and cannot handle them.

What Makes This Book Queer?

It would be easy to read Jane as a closeted lesbian, pregnant with her perfect boyfriend’s baby but fantasizing about women. I liked that Frazier kept things a little more nuanced, as she does seem to truly love her boyfriend and enjoy romance and sex with him on occasion. There is also a simplistic interpretation of this story that Jane’s repression of her sexuality is leading to her repressing all other parts of her life – her grief for the death of her alcoholic father, her fear about being a parent, her confusion about what to do with her life. I think it is more accurate to say that her fear about addressing any one of those issues makes her more likely to ignore everything else; it’s a two-way street.

When Jane asks her gay coworker how he knew he was into boys, he says that while he liked girls and boys, only boys had the power to ruin his life. I love this definition!

There were some really lovely moments in this book, and I tore through it in horrified curiosity, but it wasn’t my jam. However, I am absolutely positive that it will be exactly what someone else wants.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Find more books nominated for Lambda Literary Awards reviewed here!

1 comment on “Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

  1. Pingback: 2021 Lambda Literary Awards AND WINNERS – Roar Cat Reads

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