Rarely is a book as delightful as June Gervais’s debut novel, Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair, a story of people who do their best to be better and then fail and try again with courage and integrity. These characters cannot be dismissed or ignored, because they don’t give up. The novel is about belief: in one’s self, in others, and in the future. These days, such belief can be a difficult emotion to muster, so Gervais’s success in this regard is even more laudable.
The novel takes place in the mid-1980s in the fictional Long Island town of Blue Claw, somewhere near the location of Riverhead, New York. The novel’s time period is one that, until recently, I might have considered to be post-feminist. Women could have it all, we were told, and most of us believed it. Our innocence, or naiveté, had yet to be dashed. But Gina Mulley, the main character of Gervais’s novel, is another case entirely—she exists in a world without labels like feminism.