“A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing” is subversive, abrasive, and brilliant. Jessie Tu’s brazenness rips through the landscape of Australian fiction like a tornado as she ruthlessly excavates themes of race, sex, womanhood and patriarchy through the lens of Jena, an exceptional violinist, a former child prodigy, now a young adult, living in Sydney while she grapples with the fallout of her breakdown on stage years earlier, and re-establishing her career as a soloist.
Jena relationship with her mother is strained. She sabotages her friendships. And she uses sex as a refuge from her overriding loneliness; the pain and affection of intercourse a fleeting escape from the monotony of rehearsals, concerts, auditions and relentless practice. Tu’s descriptions are brutal and raw. Her prose is no holds barred. There’s not a trace of emotional saccharinity. Jena burns bridges, and they remain ablaze. Life is difficult, particularly as an Asian woman in a dominantly white, upper-middle-class industry. This isn’t a story about overcoming those discriminations. Nothing is wrapped in a neat bow. This isn’t fantasy. That’s the genius of “A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing.” It’s about a character facing up to the truth of her foibles without downplaying the toxic and discriminatory verisimilitude of her reality.