Adolescent girls operate under at least two pernicious mythologies: first, that the content of their lives is unserious (crushes! cosmetics! curfew!), and second, that there is a related cap on their potential to suffer. Popular culture tells them that they will endure, at most, romantic yearnings for doltish boys, or the double-binding shame of being called either undesirable or a slut. Whatever capacity for darkness these conditions might allow, both the conditions and the capacity exist to be outgrown.
From Plath to Didion to Ottessa Moshfegh, a small yet powerful cadre of women have deployed their literary talent to push back against these myths, dignifying female adolescence with unsparing darkness, and excoriating the gaslighting that leads teenage girls to believe there is something wrong with them if their souls are not half-size.
Read the rest of Elizabeth’s review on the New York Times.