Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Rules for Visiting

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Rules for Visiting

Article excerpt

RULES FOR VISITING BY JESSICA FRANCIS KANE Penguin Press. 2019. 304pp.

In Jessica Francis Kanes novel Rules for Visiting, protagonist May Attaway states "transformations are not always violent or even physical." However, in the course of human experience, they seem to be necessary. We question who we are, who we want to become, who we do become, and - in this age of social media - who we want everyone to believe we are. Kane's book depicts one character's grappling with these questions and, in doing so, offers us an important message about living as our authentic selves.

May is given a month's vacation after a local poet wins a literary prize for his poem about a yew tree she planted as a local university's landscaper. Unlike others, though, May doesn't want to travel to discover who she is when she is alone. She says, "I knew that person and I was tired of her." Instead, she decides to visit four friends from childhood and college because she wants to learn who she is from their perspective and to see herself through them. May dislikes social media, arguing that today we document our lives in these electronic spaces, but we rarely connect in person. "I decided to show up," May says. She discovers during her visits that some of her friends' lives are not as ideal as they portray them to be on social media and in fact are sadder or lonelier than the postings indicate. May appreciates the opportunity to see an average day in their lives where she can witness real experiences and not those curated for social media. …

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