Girls I Know

Girls I Know by Douglas Trevor Book Cover

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In the winter of 2001, 29-year-old Walt Steadman—grad school dropout, sperm donor, and holder of other odd jobs—survives a shooting in his favorite Boston café that leaves four people dead.  In this tragedy’s wake, Walt is forced to contemplate what, if anything, he has made of his life.  This process quickly becomes entangled with two new relationships: one with an ambitious Harvard undergraduate named Ginger Newton who is writing a book called Girls I Know about the jobs women do—from researching breast cancer to stripping to helping teenage runaways—and how these jobs shape their lives; and another with 11-year-old, African-American Mercedes Bittles, who lost her parents in the shootings.  As he opens up to both “girls,” reluctantly accepting Ginger’s financial support while tutoring the unsettled and taciturn Mercedes, Walt opens up, too, to his own dormant ambitions, all while discovering the true, diverse face of Boston, the power of human relationships, and the ability he possesses to shape his future.


Reviews of “Girls I Know”

“Affecting novel of love, coming-of-age and theistic ontology . . . As much a love song sung to Boston as a conventional novel, and a welcome debut.”

Kirkus Reviews (full review)

“This is a very promising new novelist, well worth getting acquainted with.”

Alan Caruba, Bookviews (full review)

“This impressive first novel grew out of an award-winning short story of the same name by University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Professor Trevor (The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space) . . . [An] affecting and smoothly written debut novel.”

Publishers Weekly (full review)

“Girls I Know was a really very good read! There is a lot of heart and feeling between the pages of Girls I Know. It also holds one of the best, young female characters ever. Mercedes will be a girl that definitely makes it to the tippy top of my favourite female characters read in 2013. 4 stars.”

Literary Hoarders (full review)

“Be prepared for a full range of emotions in Girls I Know: friendship, loyalty, love, family, and above all, the mysteries at every corner of one’s history that make us who we are. Douglas Trevor is a writer with a true compassion for human hearts.”

                        Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

“[A] very intellectual, but page-turning read . . . Superb.”

As I Turn the Pages (full review)

“The balancing act between boyish curiosity and the intellectual curiosities in which we cloak them has never been more enjoyable to indulge than in Girls I Know. If there’s a life lesson in the poems of John Donne, Robert Lowell, Gwendolyn Brooks and other great poets, Walt Steadman, and the cast of characters he believes he can save through poetry, will teach us. Doug Trevor creates this world, and he manages to keep it fun, too. This story’s mystery, the act of ‘interviewing women,’ both the need to save through language and the struggles to talk to one another, all create a brilliant constellation from which no one can turn away. Trevor treats the past and the present with equal urgency through his lyric language, he manages to model how we learn from the books we read, and he makes us believe through each character, even the minor ones, that life is worth taking a chance on. These characters draw from Aquinas, right along with us, ‘that even the most fallen reflect something benevolent and beautiful.’ And Girls I Know is truly beautiful.”

A. Van Jordan, author of The Cineaste

“Douglas Trevor has a fantastic writing style . . . [Girls I Know] reads like Trevor chose the most beautiful yet precise language for each moment, yet it flows effortlessly.  He could write about paint drying I think and make it sound fascinating.”

Lost in Books (full review)

“Girls I Know is, at heart, a love story. Love of the city of Boston, love of family and friends and women. But mostly it’s about learning to love yourself. And like all good love stories, it breaks your heart and then lifts you up as it navigates and ultimately celebrates that crazy thing we call love.”

Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle

“Deeply moving and ebulliently funny, this dazzling debut novel is both a Valentine to a community, a tender probing of horrific loss, and a testament to how even the rawest of hearts can heal when they’re lucky enough to find themselves in synch with others. Totally wonderful, original, and as stunning as a bolt of lightning.”

Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You

“By turns funny, flirtatious and fierce, Girls I Know is above all a work of real heart. I can’t recall when I last fell so in love with a novel’s characters, but if I had to compare Douglas Trevor to anyone he puts me in mind of a young John Irving.”

Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl

“Poetry is Walt’s greatest love, and the novel is also a poem for Boston, in a way. For those of us who have spent only brief periods of time there, it brings neighborhoods such as Cambridge, Watertown, and Jamaica Plain alive in our hearts and imaginations in ways the news media cannot. I found Girls I Know to be a very moving and hopeful novel, examining and embracing all that shatters within us, and all that gives us strength.”

Books, Personally (full review)