What a brilliant story. I want to read so much more by this writer. Vapnyar captures the voice of childhood perfectly, seemingly effortlessly, without ever being cloying or condescending.
This story captured me early on, when the seven-year-old narrator admires the fit a classmate has thrown about being offered the wrong teacup:
"Don't you just hate it when you have to drink your tea from the wrong cup?" she said.
I nodded respectfully, as if I were very familiar with the difficulty of this situation. But what I admired was her courage. I would never have had the guts to throw a tantrum. And my mother would never have taken it so calmly. Just a few days before, she had kicked me in the ribs simply for crawling around on the floor and meowing while she was on the phone. I didn't blame her. I had tried to meow into the receiver, even though I knew that she was talking to her boss.
* * * * *
I'm still making up my mind about the ending. Is it pat? Or inevitable? But I'm so captured by this telling of a formative childhood friendship that I shouldn't quibble about details. If you read it, I'd love to know what you think.