As a whole, this book drags. Pages 48 to 208, however, have no air resistance at all. Suspiciously autobiographical, the story sprints and ambles all the way to middle age, but its core of cruelty is at ages 7, 8, and 9. It’s the girl version of Lord of the Flies, except that little girls don’t need to be on an island to chew each other bloody. “Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another, they are not cute. They are life-size.”
The parts without Cordelia can be downright boring, which is too bad because Cordelia disappears halfway through. I read the rest of the book for intermittent glimpses of the older (different, fragile) Cordelia, but it was a long way to plod. So anyway, read pages 48 to 208 (out of 445) for the civilized Lord of the Flies experience.