I HAD THE FEELING that even after I'd shut this book, it would chatter away on my night table. Or better, yacketa away. Because the narrator, Hannah Wolfe, never--I mean never--lets up.
Hannah is coming of age in Flushing. She wants only to "kiss the bluebird of happiness on the lips." If you think that's funny (and I do), you'll say that Hannah has an insistent fictional voice. If you don't, you'll have said, "Enough, already!" even before this line. Hannah is not going to grow on you. You either like her or you don't.
Beyond that, Hannah is a Queens College girl who prowls the Columbia campus pretending to be from Barnard. She's trying to align her real life with her fantasies, in which she is Lady Brett Ashley. Her parents, of course, stand in the way. When Hannah stays out all night, she imagines her mother hammering at her: "You went out with the bullfighter and didn't come home. I was so worried. I almost jumped out of my mind. . . ."
Hannah yearns after the definitely not-so-Jewish "young man with hair the color of Wise Potato Chips" but ends up, instead, with the balding Moshe Wozinsky, who, worse, has to leave Psorex shampoo on his hair for 15 minutes because of his psoriasis.
Moshe is the classic crazy-making man. "I want you to know that I like you so far," he starts out, "But sexual attraction--I just don't think so." Hannah should have dumped him right there, but what can we expect from a girl whose diary reads: "I must meet somebody or I'll die"? Even Hannah's younger sister isn't a virgin. Talk about pressure!
Moshe does all the things that should tip Hannah off. He talks about his other conquests. He abandons her for one of them at the Homecoming dance. Hannah wants Moshe to break her hymen, but immediately afterward, he also breaks her heart: "I can only be with one person --and this is nothing against you, Hannah--for a short time. Then I get antsy."
It would have been well worth putting up with Hannah had she managed, somehow, to stick it to Moshe, who does far more than is outlined here. But she doesn't. She wimps out. And for this, we have an earache!