- 26 Jun 20
A powerful account of a girl becoming a woman.
In her unconventional second-person bildungsroman, Susannah Dickey insists that you, the reader, experience exactly what it’s like to be a young woman growing fearfully into her body, sexuality, and roles as daughter and friend. This fierce precision is what makes her debut novel so compelling.
Tennis Lessons follows an unnamed woman from ages three to 28, capturing her life in vignettes separated by a few months. These slices are rarely pleasant: we see her struggle with her parents’ rocky relationship; drink too much; and have a lot of bad sex.
Dickey has a great prose style and a poet’s eye for detail – in short, graceful sequences, she charts the strange, unspoken, darkly funny edges of everyday relationships. There are some memorable descriptions: at one point, a dead kitten feels “like a drawstring bag full of baby teeth.”
Such inspired moments are everywhere in Tennis Lessons. Overall, this is a powerful account of a girl becoming a woman.