The Slouching Tigers

Stephanie Zook

Stephanie Zook’s prize-winning first novel is a coming-of-age story set in Sacramento. Her mathematically gifted and musically inclined heroine, Cecilia, imagines herself as a superhero named Butterfly Girl and struggles with teenage angst centering on her love life and whether to fulfill family expectations by going to Harvard. The daughter of a white father and a Chinese mother, she also struggles with what it means to be biracial in the multicultural mix of her middle-class high school, and engages in a battle of wits with her therapist, though who exactly wins is not quite clear. Cecilia is a bit too much of a Holden Caulfield wannabe, and the narration tends to be self-conscious in that awkward, first-novel way. But, overall, the novel takes an honest approach to adolescent ennui. It’s certainly got an interesting take on Sacramento’s music scene, and plenty of local color.