This Young Girl Passing
This Young Girl Passing explores the dynamics of an illicit relationship between a troubled schoolgirl and her young French teacher in Upstate NY in the 1970s, simultaneously capturing the feel of post-Vietnam life in America. In alternating chapters the novel jumps twenty years forward, tracing the renewed affair between the teacher and student (by then married with a teenage daughter of her own) which continues until the teacher’s wife discovers the affair. This Young Girl Passing is a non-linear love story and a realistic portrayal of Middle America that spans three decades.
This Young Girl Passing is a deceptively short, dense, ferociously poignant novel of sexual betrayal and despair set in impoverished upstate New York, a Raymond Carver-ish milieu of never-weres and left-behinds. Breckenridge is a pointillist, constructing scene after scene with precise details of dialogue and gesture, each tiny in itself but accumulating astonishing power and bleak complexity. The novel’s triumph though is in its architecture, its skillfully fractured chronology and
the deft back and forth between the two main plot lines, two desperate, sad affairs twenty years apart and the hollow echoes in the blast zone of life around them.
Douglas Glover, Bad News of the Heart
Sex and French class, c’est inconsolable! Donald Breckenridge twists and elides passions and recriminations with time, giving This Young Girl Passing a glorious postmodern shimmer. The urgency of sex on every page.
Terese Svoboda, Black Glasses Like Clark Kent
Donald Breckenridge beautifully evokes the way the present is saturated with the past, the way a
brief love affair can ripple through decades, and the way even our most impassioned moments are fractured by distraction. This Young Girl Passing doesn’t pass quickly at all; it
burns itself into our understanding of obsession and love.
Dawn Raffel, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe
In this tight and uncompromising short novel, Breckenridge offers a series of scenes, a sequence of one-on-one interactions between a handful of characters that weaves in and out of time. Splicing together dialogue and description, tweaking the clear boundaries that we usually cling to in fiction, This Young Girl Passing makes the events of relatively ordinary lives slow down and resonate.
Brian Evenson, Dark Property