Hurricane Girl is Harrowing and Hilarious

5/5 Falcons

Rufus Helmreich, Contributing Writer

Hurricane Girl is a story about the life of a young woman in post-Trump America who makes all the wrong choices. Allison is in her early 30s and her life is falling apart. After fleeing an abusive ex-boyfriend and buying a beach house in North Carolina, a Category Three hurricane takes away her new life. A TV news cameraman documenting the storm smashes her head with a glass vase after taking her back to his house. Despite her miserable circumstances and the hole in her head, she keeps moving and eventually finds joy, most notably, in the swimming pool of her brain surgeon.

How much of her story is true and how much is her delusion? She continuously mutters to herself, “at least I have my health,” and we wonder: what is she thinking? But we know exactly what she’s thinking—she doesn’t hold anything back. She seems to accept everything that comes her way. But the audience is forced to wonder how much is acceptance and how much is shock or the need for things to make sense?

It’s impossible to feel disconnected from author Marcy Dermansky’s Allison, even if her life is so drastically different from our own.

Allison’s life is in turmoil; she can’t move on from one seismic change in her life before another hits her. Allison is us; chaos is a part of all of our lives. It’s impossible to feel disconnected from author Marcy Dermansky’s Allison, even if her life is so drastically different from our own. We understand what it’s like to justify the harrowing: to search for the silver lining, as long as it may take. Allison finds a swimming pool. She loves swimming. And that makes everything okay. 

Dermansky writes Allison with brutal honesty, something that despite the character’s meandering thoughts, reveals anything but delusion. The alarmingly, abrupt way that Dermansky tells this story reinforces that reality. Dermansky writes, “Allison googled ‘Driving with Head Injuries’ on her phone. She was not surprised to discover that it was not advised, but she had already driven 100 miles. She was not going to stop now.” Is it Allison’s delusion that drives her? How is she focusing on her Starbucks and not the hole in her head? Allison does know where she wants to go, and she’ll get there, but at what cost? Dermansky writes Allison as someone with whom you empathize, even as she makes decisions you say you would never consider. Allison is lost, but she isn’t—she knows what she wants more than any of us. She isn’t enviable, but she is understandable and sometimes admirable. Shock is complemented by acceptance; pain is complemented by the silver lining; bliss is accompanied by existential dread. 

Hurricane Girl is hilarious. We feel no sense of schadenfreude (the pleasure in someone else’s misfortune) for Allison’s circumstance. Instead, Dermansky makes us laugh at our own denials and disillusions. Hurricane Girl gives us not a break from reality, but a sense of clarity in our anxieties and worries. This new novel from Marcy Dermansky is a must-read.