Set during the 1970s in a neighborhood of eastern Europeans near the shores of Lake Michigan, this crisp, self-assured tale of five girls, ranging in age from 11 to 13, is told collectively, in the first-person plural, and centers on the group's athletic ringleader, Jeanne Macek. The only daughter of 12 siblings, Jeanne possesses an extra, baby thumb on one hand that, rather than being an object of scorn, holds talismanic power for the group. Spying on the ripe, perfumed Mrs. Sobczyk as she makes her Avon lady rounds, or witnessing the sexual wrestling of Jeanne's dreamy older brother, Joey, and his lovely girlfriend up the street, they are fascinated and repelled. Then Jeanne’s parents trick her into going away; on her return, the spell of childhood vanishes: Jeanne is pressed increasingly into household chores, and one of the girls, Lauren Jankowski, awakens sexually and challenges Jeanne's authority. Although it lacks the elegance of Jeffrey Eugenides’s similar debut, The Virgin Suicides, Boren hits her mark.