Thelma is six years old at the outset of this brilliantly imagined, adroitly narrated tale, and already the world shows no promise whatever of accommodating itself to her desires. Still, Thelma tries -- by asking practically every adult she meets to ...
adopt her. Not that she has been orphaned. But her parents fall dysfunctionally short of anybody's ideal. Her father's games -- he plays boss and casts Thelma as his naughty secretary -- are at best unsettling, and her mother so furiously favors her younger brother, the cherubic Willy, that Thelma finds herself perpetually in emotional exile. By turns harrowing and hilarious, Thelma's story follows her bumpy progress from the rural English village of Little Slaughter to Canada and eventually back to England, to study law at Oxford. Along the way she encounters many potential parents and even makes some friends, but mostly she lives in the fertile, extraordinarily vivid, and skewed world of her own imagination -- a world she has peopled with imaginary companions like the scaredy-baby Janawee, moody and timid Ginniger, and big, strong, stoic Heroin. With them, Thelma can escape from abuse and anorexia, if not the borderline multiple personality disorder that threatens but cannot vanquish her humor, and spirit. Nor can it diminish the deft wit and breathtaking precision that mark, with this book's arrival, a dazzling new talent in the field of literary fiction.