The titular pizza girl of Jean Kyoung Frazier’s debut novel is eighteen, pregnant, and lives at home with her mother and boyfriend. She works as a delivery driver for a local greasy pizza joint. One day, a woman named Jenny calls in an order for a cheese pizza and pickles. Something in Jenny’s voice intrigues the pizza girl, who buys pickles from a nearby store, slices them, delivers the pizza, and suddenly finds herself obsessed with the pickle-ordering housewife and mother.
Out of high school and without goals, the pizza girl feels lost and isolated. Her own mother and boyfriend have a tighter friendship with each other than with her. They cook together, watch TV together, nag our protagonist together. Her own father, an abusive drunk, is recently deceased, and she worries she is turning into him with her self-destructive tendencies. Wrapped up in loneliness, grief, and regret, the pizza girl is searching for a way out of this life, or at least some way to cope with it.
Frazier’s characters are written with compassion and sympathy, not as objects at which to gawk and judge. Her open-mindedness and ingenuity allow the narrative to unfold in surprising ways. This short book, like a medium pizza, can be devoured in one or two sittings, but savored for long after. To read Pizza Girl, click here.