‘Look At Your Game, Girl’ by Kristen Roupenian

Look At Your Game, Girl by Kristen Roupenian, 2019

The magic trick:

Summing up the story’s theme in memorable opening paragraph

A second straight slice of darkness from Kristen Roupenian.

This one sets the tone in the opening paragraph:

“Jessica was twelve years old in September 1993 – twenty-four years after the Manson murders, five years after Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose, seven months before Kurt Cobain shot himself in the head, and three weeks before a man with a knife kidnapped Polly Klaas at a sleepover in Petaluma, California.”

It’s the kind of paragraph one writes and never follows up on. It’s so specific. So strong. So standalone. What more can you say from there?

Well, of course, the author did carry on with the actual story. But it’s all there in that opening paragraph. Life is a swirl or scary, horrible events. They happen to your heroes. They happen to good people. You hope they never happen to you.

This is what growing up is; learning that strange, terrible truth about the world.

It’s all right there in the first paragraph.

And that’s quite a trick on Roupenian’s part.

The selection:

The skateboarders at the park were older than she was, thirteen and fourteen maybe, and they shouted at each other and rode their skateboards down the concrete railing, making a terrible scraping sound. Sometimes they pulled their shirts up to wipe the sweat off their faces, revealing flashes of brown stomach, and every once in a while, one of them caught his skateboard on the rail and went flying forward on his hands and knees, leaving a quartet of bright red streaks on the pavement. None of them ever spoke to her. She would watch them for an hour, listen to her music, pretend to read her book, and go home.

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