One Pill Makes You Smaller, Lisa Dierbeck

Alice Duncan has a problem: she is growing up too fast. Literally. In school she is a freak—ridiculed and ostracized—but on the streets of Manhattan, she is very popular. Rabbit, her aunt’s boyfriend, can’t stop telling her how beautiful she is. Even rock star Crash Omaha can’t help tearing off his clothes and climbing into her shower stall to show her the green tattoo of a cockroach on his upper thigh.

But Alice has no one to turn to. Her artist father has checked himself into a chic mental institution, her mother has run off to Italy, and her 16-year-old aunt is collecting boyfriends. When her aunt ships her off to the Balthus Institute, an art camp in North Carolina, Alice finds herself awash in the black-lit, drug-addled ’70s art world, where she encounters JD, a sweet-talking man who engages her in a dangerous flirtation. He is charming, amoral, and possibly an outlaw.

Dierbeck has created an enchanting story filled with sensuous detail and wicked humor, and she superbly brings to life the surreal experience of an 11-year-old girl crossing perilously into adulthood. Invoking the fantastic universe of Alice in Wonderland, this deliciously self-assured debut is an inspired paean to reckless hedonism and lost innocence. 

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Praise for One Pill Makes You Smaller:

“The dark heart at the center of the book is just right.  It leaves a lasting impression.” – New York Times Book Review 

 “Provocative… A nuanced study in moral ambiguity; an expansive piece of cultural commentary.  An unsettling and original book.” – Boston Globe

“Significant triumph…Expand[s] our vision of Carroll’s fable, recasting its richly baroque imagery in a language that’s both familiar and all her own….Poignant…dead-on true…stays compelling page by page.” – American Book Review

Copyright Irene Skolnick Literary Agency 2016