My Daughter’s Boyfriends by Penny Jackson

My Daughter’s Boyfriends by Penny Jackson
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Romance, LGBTQ, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

My Daughter’s Boyfriends is a short story collection from the Pushcart Prize–winning writer Penny Jackson. Her female narrators explore the loss of love and innocence, as well as the strength to overcome adversity and the need for redemption. The setting of these stories ranges from a hotel in Jamaica to New York City during the terror reign of Son of Sam to a summer camp for teenage girls in New Hampshire. Original, entertaining, thought-provoking, My Daughter’s Boyfriends will prove to be of special appeal to readers with an interest in coming-of-age stories about women.

These are the parts of womanhood that most women don’t discuss out loud.

The main character in ‘The First Brassiere” was irritated by the prospect of needing to wear a bra for the first time. Growing up isn’t always easy, and I liked the way she described what she wanted out of life instead and why she was so hesitant to start acting like a proper young lady. Ms. Jackson captured that stage of development perfectly and with the perfect amount of humor.

As soon as “The Elephant in the Bush” mentioned that Ida had Alzheimer’s disease and her former daughter-in-law was looking after her, I was interested in hearing more. I’d been a little suspicious this might be the case as soon as she was introduced, and I wanted to see what the plot did with characters like these. The relationship between them was warm, loving, and slightly unusual given that Susan had been divorced from Ida’s son for many years. This was something shared very early on in their conversation, and it only deepened my curiosity about how their family worked and what else I could learn about them.

Rose had a complicated and sometimes painful relationship with her father in “Green Love.” I was intrigued by how little she knew about what he did for a living and how uninterested she was in learning more. This was a memorable snapshot of a dysfunctional family that loved each other but struggled to express emotions like love for reasons that I will leave up to other readers to discover for themselves.

My Daughter’s Boyfriends made me yearn for more. What a poignant and gorgeous collection.

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