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The Girl Who Was Saturday Night: A Novel Hardcover – June 3, 2014
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*Starred Review* The girl of the title is Nouschka Tremblay; she and her twin brother, Nicholas, are the 19-year-old children of Étienne Tremblay, a once-famous folksinger and composer who, though his career is now in eclipse, is still celebrated. The twins, high-school dropouts and adrift, are famous, too, their every move reported in the tabloids. Set in Montreal in the 1990s, the story, told by Nouschka, follows her attempts to straighten out her life even as her brother’s becomes ever more erratic. Raised by their elderly grandfather, the twins live together on the edge of poverty, and Nicholas has resorted to petty thievery to support himself. Meanwhile, Nouschka has become a student in night school, hoping to receive her high-school diploma, go on to college, and become a writer. Her plans are interrupted when she falls in love with Raphael, who may be schizophrenic. Complications ensue. O’Neill (Lullabies for Little Criminals, 2006) has written a marvelously intriguing novel of a family in dissolution, each member of which is richly and memorably characterized. A secondary theme involving the Quebec separatist movement evokes the possible separation of the intense bond that has characterized the twins’ lives. The book is beautifully written, particularly rich in simile and metaphor (“The pink clouds in the sky were delicates soaking in the sink”; “The notes from the piano were like raindrops falling on the lake”). Compulsively readable, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is a delight for any night. --Michael Cart
“A marvelously intriguing novel of a family in dissolution, each member of which is richly and memorably characterized. . . . The book is beautifully written, particularly rich in simile and metaphor . . . Compulsively readable, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is a delight for any night.” ―Michael Cart, Booklist (starred review)
“O'Neill's language . . . is what I find so beguiling about her work. Similes blow up the ordinary. Hyperbole extends throughout . . . O'Neill exceeds at inventing a place where magic really happens, where the mundane can become extraordinary.” ―Liz Fischer Greenhill, The Rumpus
“What really shines here is O'Neill's writing. The author stuns with the vivid descriptions and metaphors that are studded throughout the book . . . O'Neill's writing grows ever more distinct and direct.” ―Kirkus
“Wonderfully interesting and captivating.” ―As the Plot Thins
“In her indelible portrait of troubled but lovable twin picaros Nouschka and Nicolas Tremblay, Heather O'Neill beautifully depicts what it's like to burn a little brighter than everyone else. A book for those of us who feel too much, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night perfectly captures the sad, strange moment when you realize you're no longer young.” ―Marjorie Celona, author of Y