Though the plot is predicated on the death of a sorority sister, this book is really a character study of the members of her sorority house. Each chapter is a vignette about a different member, resulting in a quasi-short story collection. Sly Crane crafts an entire life for each sister in the few pages they are allotted, making even the most minute characters feel fully fleshed out and deserving of empathy.— Rebecca
Sisterhood is forever…whether you like it or not.
Prep meets Girls in White Dresses in Genevieve Sly Crane’s deliciously addictive, voyeuristic exploration of female friendship and coming of age that will appeal to anyone who has ever been curious about what happens in a sorority house.
Twinsets and pearls, secrets and kinship, rituals that hold sisters together in a sacred bond of everlasting trust. Certain chaste images spring to mind when one thinks of sororities. But make no mistake: these women are not braiding each other’s hair and having pillow fights—not by a long shot.
What Genevieve Sly Crane has conjured in these pages is a blunt, in your face look behind the closed doors of a house full of contemporary women—and there are no holds barred. These women have issues: self-inflicted, family inflicted, sister-to-sister inflicted—and it is all on the page. At the center of this swirl is Margot: the sister who died in the house, and each chapter is told from the points of view of the women who orbit her death and have their own reactions to it.
With a keen sense of character and elegant, observant prose, Crane details the undercurrents of tension in a world where perfection comes at a cost and the best things in life are painful—if not impossible—to acquire: Beauty. A mother’s love. And friendship… or at least the appearance of it. Woven throughout are glimmers of the classical myths that undercut the lives of women in Greek life. After all, the Greek goddesses did cause their fair share of destruction.
About the Author
Genevieve Sly Crane was the Pledge Mistress of her own sorority. She graduated from Stony Brook University with her MFA in Creative Writing and Literature in 2013. Her work has appeared in The Southampton Review and American Short Fiction. Her story “Endings, Bright and Ugly” was a finalist in the 2017 American Short(er) Fiction Prize. She teaches in the Department of English at Monroe College.
"Ingenious…Crane’s prose is thoughtful and haunting; she expertly brings characters to life... The multivoice structure fits the story perfectly, resulting in a stellar examination of female relationships."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"One of the most gripping and beautiful works of the year… Crane captures the tinge of desperation, that hint of the unbearable, that comes with being a college-aged woman."
"Sorority is a dark look behind the closed doors of Greek life, diving deeply into each of the sisters' lives as we discover their secrets, their fears, and how the death of a sister affects them. Evocative of The Virgin Suicides and Girls in White Dresses, this debut novel is utterly mesmerizing."
"This book will eat you alive. It's messy, nasty, merciless, hilarious, and razor sharp, just like the young women it's about. It made me wince and squirm and flinch and I loved every single minute of it."
—Kristen Roupenian, author of “Cat Person” and the forthcoming You Know You Want This
"I can think of no reasons not to read this dark novel about the swirling social world of college sisterhood."
"Crane, once a sorority sister herself, skillfully reproduces sorority life: the particular cruel caring of these friendships, the intensity of this way station before the adult world, the way the decisions made during that time can stay with a young woman… [an] unflinching depiction of hardhearted girls growing up."
"Sharp, inventive, and compulsively readable, Sorority takes a dark deep dive into the complex underworld of the infamous sorority house. Under Crane's command, these sisters' stories tangle brilliantly, creating a chorus that is as tender as it is tortured, revealing so much about the female experience at large."
—Molly Prentiss, author of Tuesday Nights in 1980
"If you're looking for mesmerizing prose and fascinating female characters, then you're going to want to move Crane's debut to the top of your reading list.”
"A wicked debut."
“Throughout the multivoice narrative, Sorority peers into the lives, minds, and hearts of incredibly complex women that readers won't be able to stop thinking about."
“Without pulling any punches, Crane dives headfirst into the dark waters that is Greek life, never shying away from showing the deviant side of sisterhood, the sting of betrayal, the pressures from co-eds, or the temptation of drugs and alcohol. The effect not only creates a compulsively readable book, but a compelling examination of female friendship and the unsteady transition from girl to woman.”
“By turns wickedly humorous and deeply haunting, Sorority isn't a whodunit, but Crane's prose turns it into something of a addictive page-turner. The writing throughout the book is beautiful and darkly enchanting...”
“Sorority has everything you would expect from a book with its name… but Crane's book it is so much more than that. It's a deft and thoughtful look at the dangerous journey girl to woman, one fraught with heartbreak, tragedy, and trauma.”
“When you come to the end of Sorority you will not find a happy ending, or really, any concrete ending at all. What will find, though, is the sudden urge to dive in and read it all over again, because stories like these get under your skin and never quite leave you alone again.”