“O. Henry Award-winner Genevieve Plunkett’s debut collection of a dozen stories, Prepare Her, is a vivid and emotionally raw look at the less-picturesque side of small-town Vermont life. In “Something for a Young Woman,” an adolescent girl bonds with her employer over her boyfriend’s shortcomings and, in her later years, reflects on this almost-romance with an older man. “Trespassers,” another female coming-of-age story, features teenaged Emi who copes with dissociative episodes, underwhelming sexual encounters and the loss of close female friendships. Meanwhile, “Gorgon,” a darkly tender story of a girl obsessed with myths and disturbed by the homeless man outside her window, captures the simultaneous feelings of loneliness and being watched that one experiences as a prepubescent girl.

Plunkett’s writing is mesmerizing in its even pacing, crisp prose and minute character insights. The deeply internal and meditative nature of her stories is well-captured in the particularly evocative opening to one of the collection’s best stories, “Single,” which describes a woman’s daydreams of living alone despite her stiff marriage to her childhood friend: “A room like in a poem, with soft ponderous light. Curtains. Old-fashioned colors, like faded yellows and olive green. There would be a book open on a tidy desk beside a bed with a single pillow.” The neatness and precision of Plunkett’s writing is well-suited for the quiet but emotionally deep nature of her characters, who straddle the line between a too-lucid understanding of the world and a longing to escape into the imaginative realm of the ever-evasive could-be. –Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Prepare Her is a well-crafted and emotionally astute collection of 12 stories with particular insight into the experience of girlhood.”

Read about it on Shelf Awareness here.