In the Time of the Girls
When do you stop being a girl? When do you start? And, perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be a girl? These questions are necessary ingredients in order to fully ingest Anne Germanacos’ debut work, In the Time of the Girls. An exploration of history and individual experience, the book forsakes the traditional plot-driven narrative for a collection of short stories which themselves are a mosaic of prose and dialogue infused vignettes, each individually titled.
Feminist theory discourages identifying women as a definitive group whose lives are bound to each other on the basis of a shared gender. However, I am consistently reminded how my experiences mirror those of the women I’ve encountered throughout my life. Germanacos shines in her ability to tap into the collective consciousness of women as she deftly articulates the moments where our lives intersect.
“Men on Crosses” is an abstract, yet poignant, story that uses biblical allegory to explore pregnancy, abortion, and the ever-present dichotomy of choice. “Sundering Twins” explores identity and sexuality through the relationship of two outcast individuals—“He was an orphan, she the lesser half of a pair.” My favorite stories include the titular chapter, “In the Time of the Girls,” a celebration of the many ways of being a girl, and “Infinity,” which begins by asking, “But was it a doll or a person, or both? And, who could say? The girls, I guess, who read the stories, or the mothers who read them to the little girls who couldn’t.”
In its best moments, In the Time of the Girls reads like a lost diary of your favorite Women’s Studies professor—one part feminist prose and one part academic text. A cacophony of insights, Germanacos bravely and creatively tackles gender, race, religion, imperialism, and more, always returning to the nebulous experience of being “girl.”