CAREER: Writer. Seventeen (magazine), staff member; University of Michigan, instructor.
Ask Me Anything, Norton (New York, NY), 2004, published in England as Midnight in Manhattan, Orion (London, England), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals and Web sites. Advice columnist, Teen People.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Francesca Delbanco's debut novel, Ask Me Anything, follows a young woman as she struggles to make the transition from student life to true adulthood. The narrator, Rosalie Preston, is in her twenties, recently graduated from Harvard, and struggling to get her life on track in Manhattan. Though she makes her living as an advice columnist for a teen magazine, Rosalie's true passion is acting. She and some of her friends from Harvard have formed a theater company, the First Borns, but even as they try to make the group cohere, the long-time companions are inevitably losing touch with each other. Some of the more talented members of the group are drawn away by better opportunities; others become absorbed in love. Rosalie feels estranged from her friends, and those feelings intensify when she begins an affair with Berglan Starker, a married man many years her senior. (Berglan is also the father of one of the other First Borns.) Rosalie keeps their relationship a secret from her friends, and her own situation becomes much more difficult to untangle than the ones she typically addresses in her advice column. Delbanco's narrator is "fully drawn, if not always fully sympathetic," noted Tania Barnes in Library Journal. Barnes considered Tell Me Anything a "wry, compelling, and keenly observed" story. Booklist contributor Kristine Huntley called Rosalie a "sharp, witty narrator" and added: "Delbanco's assured, insightful debut is a must-read for the twentysomething set."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of Ask Me Anything, p. 725.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2003, review of Ask Me Anything, p. 1326.
Library Journal, December, 2003, Tania Barnes, review of Ask Me Anything, p. 165.
Publishers Weekly, November 10, 2003, review of Ask Me Anything, p. 39.
Morning News Online,http://www.themorningnews.org/ (March 16, 2004), Robert Birnbaum, interview with Delbanco.*