Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead, 334 pages
Laura grew up in the lap of luxury in New York City's Upper East Side, going to a private girls' school, getting a cushy job planning events at a private library supported by her uber-wealthy family. And then, when she's in her 30s, Laura has a one-night-stand that results in the birth of Emma. Against all expectations, Laura assumes the life of a single mom and raises her daughter in the same high society in which she was brought up (though she does try to infuse as much of her liberal mindset as possible in her daughter).
In her debut novel, Greathead offers up not one, but two coming-of-age stories: that of Emma and that of her mother, who takes most of Emma's childhood to really figure out who she really is. It's an interesting story, told in short vignettes representing most years between 1980 and 1995. Through this construction, the reader never really gets to know any of the characters closely; instead, they're more like casual acquaintances you keep bumping into over many years. But there's plenty to think about regarding Laura's social status and the politics of the era, sprinkled with Greathead's dry humor. I enjoyed it.