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"Was she really Plath, begging for the formalities of a letter to depict her travels into the next world, 'the girl that Things Happen To'? Or just a nameless poetess, sending me far away messages when really, I was right there?"

(p. 78)

synopsis

 

Growing up is never easy. It is even more so when the divide between the private internal world and the external perceptions of others is greater than for the typical teenager. 17-year-old James, well-liked and engaging, must negotiate an evolving relationship with his closed-off, yet brilliant friend Eileen as their friendship flirts with romance even as it takes an unsettling turn into adult realities.

through Eileen stretches the grey space between the normal and the abnormal, solitude and loneliness, friendship and romance. Its narrative investigates the phenomenon of loving someone versus living someone. What does it mean to know someone so well, you experience their thoughts as if they were your own?

praise for through Eileen

“Maxine Flasher-Düzgüneş has created a coming of age novella that nails what it’s like to be a teenager living on the edge. Told with precise details that are accumulated and arranged “like stars in the coming night,” through Eileen generously invites the reader into the emotional lives of James and Eileen (Leen) as they navigate the unpredictable, maddening, affectionate, obsessive, poetic journey of what a childhood friendship has the potential to morph into.”

 

– Karen Benke, author of Sister and Leap Write In (Roost Books/Penguin Random House)

“In the Bay Area, a bright engaging 17-year-old playwright James and his homeschooled brilliant eccentric friend Eileen hang out, shoot the shit, study, talk, parry, drive around, attend a gallery opening: what seems like a winning funny angsty friendship/romance turns into something darker, and much more psychologically complex. What is it to encounter the world through another, to really see another? Maxine Flasher-Düzgüneş writes vividly of teen life and close relationships  — and of family, friendship, ambition, mental health, violence, love, how we do and do not know ourselves, and those closest to us.”

 

– Maureen N. McLane, 2012 Finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award and author of My Poets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“In this book, Maxine Flasher-Düzgüneş explores the confusion and pain of adolescence and friendship. James and Eileen, the central characters, rely on each other in the midst of abstracted or absent parents, hostile teens, abrupt administrators and the chaos of James’ school. Eileen, the more troubled of the two, is often enigmatic and their friendship has its discords and disconnects, but is powerful and sustaining as they navigate towards adulthood.”

– Meryl Natchez, author of Poems from the Stray Dog Café (Longship Press)

“How was I bad at this? A long time ago, I decided to find friends that never gave me a straight answer. And yet now they blamed me for misinterpretation. Everywhere I went, every person I met seemed to recognize that I had a false impression of the life of an average American teenager. For one, I didn’t do drugs, nor did I drink excessively or throw parties in my parents’ basement. I understood the worthiness of peer pressure and all its partners in crime, but I didn’t understand how people could submit to it so easily. Was refusing to participate in teen recreation contributing to my isolation? I mean, it wasn’t isolation, it was just a writer’s version of quarantine, or simply me taking time off from some dope enthusiasts. Every teen I knew was messed up… so legitimately, why would I hurl myself into their misshapen pot just to appear like I belonged?” (p. 36)

 

James Windom

Illustration by Rachel Lee

“After many of my own conversations with her, before her trip to San Francisco, I learned that at the heart of her was no weak beating clock, or tender organ like the rest of us, but a series of mechanisms that turned over and over and over each other, to every second, a differently contrived shape. She certainly had the ability to love and worship things, and take interest in particular objects or places in the world, but she was not entirely centered around those remedial, ordinary human characteristics. She possessed what I called a skill, one of so much intensity, that none of us could really stuff it in our brains.” (p. 68-69)

Eileen Wagner

Illustration by Rachel Lee

diversion (p. 10)

Animation by Rachel Lee