Donald Breckenridge’s This Young Girl Passing delves into a love affair between a young girl and her teacher, their eventual relationship three decades later, and their journey together through the psyche, through time, through aging, through facing each other.
Disclosure: In my twenties ,I noticed my own pattern of falling for older men, and wondered what was going on in my psyche. Was I guilty of “daddy issues?” I need wisdom, I need to be called honey, and I need to be held a lot. Are these daddy issues? Perhaps not, actually, but while reading this book, and seeing the aftermath explored through the emotional consequences Breckenridge explores for his characters, I also then wondered: Was I doing myself emotional damage?
“We are talking about adultery,” Bill exclaimed. “No,” the overweight woman interjected, “we are talking about books about adultery.”
This Young Girl Passing is sentences tightly and poetically written, and time periods expertly crafted. Post Breckenridge’s wonderful novel, You Are Here, it signifies a continued bright future for a gifted writer. The construct of the age issue Breckenridge has chosen to discuss makes the book controversial, but lends itself to a deeper exploration of the psyche, and the premise to do so was gutsy, if not brilliant.
“Sarah,” he began to blush. “I asked you a question and I’d like for you to answer it.” She held up her left hand, “Okay,” and whispered an oath, “I’ve never dated a married man,” before placing her left hand on his shoulder and kissing him on the mouth, “but in twenty years, you’ll still be fourteen years older than me.”
The intimacy explored is rendered so tenderly throughout the book, one cannot help but find herself thinking the authoritative voice, the narrator, has dealt with his female character in such a gut-wrenching yet delicate form, that Donald Breckenridge had a deep respect in mind for his character while writing this book.
Though parts of the work and the premise as a whole could be seen as, well, off-putting, the honest emotion, the tenderness, the emotive romanticism is so moving, that it would seem that this book is actually less about a young girl—perhaps she is a metaphor for unrequited love in general—perhaps it is more about the emotions of a woman later, in that, what her emotions were as a young girl become the center of who she is as a woman, and those emotions are so deeply felt, that what Breckenridge has done, through exploring the emotional aftermath of a veritable trauma on a young girl, is to not only give her a voice, but to also uphold it, and the world the characters live in.
This book has the ethereal ache of Lolita and all readers who loved Lolita will love it similarly.