A collection of "elegant, original, and moving" stories "with the lyrical brilliance and bite of Sylvia Plath" set in a not-so bucolic Vermont, a land of antique stores, small towns, fading farms, and young women trying to figure out marriage, motherhood, sex and their own power (Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Almost Famous Women and Birds of a Lesser Paradise).
Prepare Her tells the stories of young women at the brink of discovering their own power. The crossroads in their lives are not always the obvious kind--divorce, motherhood, coming of age--but sometimes much more private and dramatic. Kitty discovers that her ex-boyfriend has committed a murder; Renee navigates a friendship with Arla, a Jehovah's Witness; Emi realizes that her boyfriend is fetishizing her mental illness; Petra acts recklessly when faced with a client with a gun; and Rachel must grapple with the reality of raising a daughter in a world that she, herself, is still terrified of.
Tempered by its rural and often haunting Vermont setting, this book explores the complexities of gender and power imbalances in a way that transforms normal life into something mysterious, uncharted, and sometimes bewildering. Through this lens, we can see the many subtle, yet staggering injustices endured by the women at the center of these stories, as well as identify what, or who might be responsible.
Plunkett's striking debut puts a series of women's interior lives in stark relief. In "Something for a Young Woman," teenager Allison confides in the owner of the antique store where she works about her boyfriend's shortcomings, while sensing that the owner finds her attractive. He gives her a necklace, which she doesn't wear until many years later. First, she marries the boyfriend and has a child: "these decisions the birth, the wedding as well as others, were made with the earnestness of dogs wanting to be good," Allison reflects. The protagonist in "Single" longingly thinks about what it would be like to live by herself, but instead marries her childhood friend. During their honeymoon at a rundown retreat, the young newlyweds explore ideas they'd never said aloud, but it's not enough to keep them together. "Rodeo" depicts an audience witnessing the unexpected death of a horse in Vermont as April worries how her son will be affected while brooding about her husband. "He was like a well-made box," April thinks after snooping through his belongings and failing to find evidence to explain her feeling of unease about him, "with a clearly defined purpose on the outside, at least." Plunkett's keen observations will pique readers, and the stories pay off with dividends.