Some readers are not concerned with plot, and remain undeterred if a novel is filled with abhorrent characters.
If you are one of these readers, “Girls I Know” by Douglas Trevor may be for you. The novel follows 29-year old Walt Steadman as he attempts to piece his life back together after he witnesses a shooting at his favorite breakfast restaurant.
However the shooting — the main and arguably only event in the novel — doesn’t take place until more than 100 pages in, giving us far too much undirected time with Walt. Which isn’t a good thing, because Walt is insufferable. No matter a person’s position — restaurant hostess, parent, teacher — Walt is convinced he could do better, and isn’t shy about saying so. His overinflated sense of self is on full display when Walt decides to return to school and, instead of keeping his two jobs, quits both and relies on handouts to fund his impressively unproductive days . Walt is remarkably, unabashedly self-absorbed.
He also has as much direction as a feather in the wind, making it difficult to remain interested as he flits from one pursuit to the next. When given just a hint of encouragement, Walt upends his life — again and again — to pursue opportunities others believe will suit him, never once taking a risk and pursuing something out of his own desires .
But there are characters in this novel (such as Walt’s neighbor, Ginger; his tutee, Mercedes; and Mercedes’ grandmother) who do pursue their personal ambitions. Set against Walt’s constant failures to launch, it becomes clear just how strong, intelligent, and capable these women are — and how much Walt condescends to all those around him in a desperate attempt to secures a foothold in his life .
While Walt is the main focus in Trevor’s novel, the girls — women actually — are the characters you’ll want to know.