Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Page 69: Inconvenient Daughter

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 

We put Lauren J Sharkey's Inconvenient Daughter to the test.

Set up page 69 for us. What are we about to read?

Rowan and Valentina are students at Our Lady of Mercy Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school on Long Island, NY. At this point, their excitement for the Sadie Hawkins Dance is met with worry over the school’s new dress code after word of the cost and beauty of another student’s dress starts to make its way through the halls. In particular, Rowan is not only worried about asking her mother to buy her another dress, but also concerned that if she can’t get a dress which meets the guidelines that she won’t be able to go with her crush.

What is your book about?

At its core, Inconvenient Daughter is about the relationships between mothers and daughters. Rowan is a transracial adoptee from Korea being raised by two Irish Catholic parents on Long Island. Not seeing herself reflected in the faces of the people she loves most, and the lack of answers surrounding Rowan’s relinquishment, lead her to question her self-worth. Rowan – like so many of us – is searching for love, her identity, and where she belongs.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?

I think this page definitely gives the reader an accurate sense of the tension between Rowan and her mother, which is one of the central themes of the book. When it comes to Rowan and her mother, there’s a lot they don’t say to each other, and therefore, a lot that’s assumed. Rowan’s fear of talking to her mother about everything – from buying a dress to questions about her biological mother – leads the their inability to be close.


Despite being an exemplary college preparatory school on the North Shore of Long Island, the Academy had sent a letter home after the hallways were taken over by speculations regarding Kristen Yacendia’s custom gown two weeks before the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Apparently, Badgley Mischka was a friend. Either way, Mercy let it be known it would not permit any “attire that contributes to social and economic division among its young women.”

            “Did you see this crap?” Valentina huffed, slamming her binder onto my lunch tray.

            “Dude – my fries! Watch it!”

            “This place sucks – it’s like we can’t do anything.”

            “What’s your deal?”

            She laughed at my ignorance, and passed me an envelope. As I removed and unfolded its contents, my eyes grew wider, my temperature hotter.

            “Are they serious?” I mumbled, my mouth full of fries.

            “I know!” she said, snatching the notice from me. “Check this out: Excessive cleavage is not allowed. Looks like you don’t have to worry about that one,” Valentina laughed, giving my chest a quick pat.

            “Shut up, lesbo,” I laughed, swatting her hand away. “No backless, no midriffs, blah, blah, blah…What?! Dresses may not be above the knee and are not to exceed tea-length. Absolutely no gowns are permitted. What the hell is tea-length?”

            “I don’t know, dude.”

            “Oh my god,” I sighed, lowering my head to the table. “My mom’s going to kill me – she already got me a dress.”

            “The red one?”



LAUREN J. SHARKEY is a writer, teacher, and transracial adoptee. After her birth in South Korea, she was adopted by Irish Catholic parents and raised on Long Island. Sharkey holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Literature, and her cre­ative nonfiction has appeared in the Asian American Feminist Collective’s digi­tal storytelling project, First Times, as well as several anthologies including I Am Strength! and Women under Scrutiny. Inconvenient Daughter is her debut novel, and loosely based on her experience as a Korean adoptee. You can follow her at ljsharks.com.

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