"Original and fearless . . . A powerful portrait of human connection and individual triumph."::People, 3.5 stars out of 4

"Powerful..ambitious...relentless…a work of art."::The Boston Globe

"Ambitious, heartfelt."::NYLON

"A beautifully written, fiercely intelligent, and psychologically nuanced portrayal of a friendship cut tragically short, the delicate balance of fate and choice, and the many varieties of love and family that create meaning . . . A Life in Men is a sort of joyous call to action. It will make you look more carefully at the time you have left."::The Oregonian

"Frangello writes with a clarity into the human condition that allows her to lay bare the countless ways our lives are connected, between us and other people, but more importantly between ourselves and who we were and who we’re becoming…The book’s heartbreaking conclusion will leave you feeling you’ve been on the journey with these characters, and all the better for it.."::The Kansas City Star

"Frangello writes with epic ferocity. She inhabits many countries brilliantly, many characters seamlessly, and a carousel of points of view…It takes courage to write a book like this."::Chicago Tribune, Printers Row

"A page-turner…"::The Iowa City Gazette

"A stunning novel--Frangello’s broken characters live in a world of terror and redemption, of magnificent sadness and beauty."::Kirkus Reviews

Advance Praise for A Life in Men


Two college students and lifelong friends are vacationing in Greece in the 1980s. This is just one in a string of adventures for sexy, confident Nix, but for Mary it’s a radical departure from the sheltered life overseen by her adoptive parents to keep her cystic fibrosis in check. Three years later, Mary is in London, grieving for Nix, whose fate remains a mystery for much of the novel. Mary lives on the edge, exacerbating her chronic illness, which Frangello (Slut Lullabies, 2010) depicts with unnervingly clinical specificity. She falls in love with a South African gymnast, and they travel the world. Frangello describes each setting with elegiac intensity, assembles a six-degrees-of-separation cast of characters lanced by secrets and pain, and embroiders a suspenseful, melodramatic, wildly excessive plot of interconnectivity, embodying Mary’s desperate attempt to fill her numbered days to the brim. In this bravura performance, a quantum creative leap, contrivances and all, Frangello astutely dissects the quandaries of female sexuality, adoption, terminal illness, and compound heartbreak in a torrent of tough-minded observations, audacious candor, and storytelling moxie. — Donna Seaman

publisher's weekly

Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 17, Mary Grace wants to understand why her lifelong friendship with Nix went awry during an ill-fated Greek vacation before their junior year of college. She can‘t ask Nix, who has passed away, so she moves to London, where Nix lived in the months prior to her death. For a short time, Mary assumes Nix‘s name and adventurous personality and begins to experi ment with a wild, seedy lifestyle, describing everything in a diary addressed to her dead friend while trying to hide or ignore her own resurfacing illness. Mary‘s determination to compress an entire lifetime of experiences into a few years results in some spectacularly poor decisions, but because her illness remains mild for a decade, her travels and the men she loves have a doomed, romantic quality, until the book‘s conclusion. The aftermath of the Greek vacation unfolds inexorably,as Mary‘s current storyline masterfully plays out to its conclusion. Frangello‘s (Slut Lullabies) novel packs an emotional punch throughout, particularly in its final third. Agent: Alice Tasman, Jean Naggar Agency.(Feb.)

library journal

In the mid-1980s, when an American college student, Mary, is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, she escapes to Greece with the only person who doesn‘t treat her with pity: her best friend, Nicole. In a twist of fate, Nicole‘s life ends prematurely, and Mary tries to outrun her emotional burdens by living hard and reinventing herself in London, where she is drawn to men who lead risky lives. Intense yet meditative, Frangello‘s second novel (after My Sister‘s Continent) asks how we would live if we knew our life was going to be cut short. Mary lives out an “entitled hedonism.” Even after she marries a doctor who loves her, she is drawn back to a life of chasing adventure, and the one man who never treated her like a fragile object. VERDICT Frangello‘s sophisticated writing vivdly brings to life the setting of Mary‘s exotic travels, including Mexico, Amsterdam, and Morocco; she smoothly streams the consciousness of her complex characters in the third-person point of view, which alternates among Mary and her lovers. Ambitious in breadth and scope, this work will appeal to fans of Barbara Kingsolver and those who like being immersed in foreign settings. -Sonia Reppe, Stickney Forest View P.L., IL