>Bulletproof Girl, by Quinn Dalton

>I met Quinn Dalton at the Sewanee Writers Conference last summer, where she was a fellow, and saw her again at the Virginia Festival of the Book this year, so I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her read from two of the stories in this collection, Bulletproof Girl. These stories are linked by female protagonists who have taken a hit—rape, abuse, unwanted pregnancy, weird parents (usually the mother)—but find a way to move on.

The best example, I think, and probably the strongest story in the collection, is “Midnight Bowling.” Tess lives with her mother and has just finished high school. Her father died recently of AIDS (he shared a dirty needle) and the mother has turned to a slimy religion-pushing wife-cheating salesman. Tess has a boyfriend who seems rough at first, but has a good heart. Donny works at the bowling alley and Tess helps out there too, and they both plan to be together. Except that Tess has a chance at a scholarship to the State university and that would change everything.

“At the funeral, my Aunt Belinda and Uncle Percy, my mother’s sister and brother who live together and take tea bags with them whenever they travel, told me that because my father was a drug addict, I would have to be more careful; I could get addicted to anything. Me standing by the hole with a velvet skirt around it and the coffin looking like it was hovering, about to blast off. Nobody said anything about the AIDS. It was easier to think about the drugs.”

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