Portrait of a Crossroads
There are times when a story needs to be wrapped up, when there are too many loose ends floating around, and nothing makes sense. There are other times, though, where at the end of the book you are left wondering, and it is a good thing. Not everything is finished, and it doesn’t always need to be. Portrait of a Crossroads is like that – an open-ended story that just feels right.
A recent high school graduate, Annette Vargas is, like most teenagers, trying to figure out what to do next. Her father’s suicide the year before, and her discovery of his body, has Annette’s entire sense of self off-track – she is, quite simply, at a loss about the future.
And though she has considered women romantically before, she finds her newly-single neighbor endlessly fascinating…
Annette is aimless, distracted and disoriented by the death of her father and the changes in her life – moving from the familiar high school into the unknown future as an adult. She hasn’t even decided, really, whether or not she’ll be going to college (though we get to see her make some steps in this direction). My only complaint about Annette is that because she herself is so disconnected and numb, I had trouble relating to her as a person. She gets more real towards the end, like she is waking up from a rather depressing dream. Sadie, on the other hand, is a bright colorful character. She is an artist, working from home, and is very welcoming, despite the fact that her (supposed) ex-girlfriend literally just left at the beginning of the story.
I was concerned about the age difference between Sadie (late 20s) and Annette (17/18). Although Annette is the one to make the first move, and she is, legally, an adult, that is a huge age difference (in maturity, more than years). And it is so obvious what Annette is going for (even without the narrative benefit). Somehow it still works, and works well.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this story. The writing was beautiful; I literally went back and read it over again from the beginning. I will definitely be looking for more from this author.