Titian-haired girls with personalities to match their locks have always had a special place in literature. From Anne of Green Gables to Pippy Longstocking, brash red-heads have won readers over the years with their outspoken charm and outrageous antics. Now with Justin Kramon’s debut novel, Finny, another vibrant girl with flaming tresses joins the pantheon.
When we first meet Finny Short, she is 14 and, like most girls at that age, at odds with the world. Too smart for her own good, Finny frequently clashes with her parents, who seem to have a platitude for every occasion. Combative and sullen, it is when Finny meets Earl, who is quiet and gentle, that her hard exterior begins to soften as first love takes hold. Alas, the course of true love never did run smooth, and the twosome find themselves facing obstacles of boarding school and relocations to France, amongst the other more typical difficulties that growing up entails.
Through it all, readers will be captivated by Finny as she grapples with finding her place in the world and learning to accept herself, flaws and all. Finny is so many things: funny and brave, loyal and giving, but the one thing she most certainly is not is boring. In the pages of Finny, Kramon captures the difficult transition from girlhood to womanhood with remarkable tenderness and insight. The warmth with which he infuses the narrative is one of the novel’s strongest elements, and there is a real vitality that hums through its pages. Without a doubt, Finny is the perfect coming-of-age read for those who are eternally young at heart.