Book Review: The Hypothetical Girl by Elizabeth Cohen

The Hypothetical Girl by Elizabeth Cohen

  • Method of Obtaining: My copy was provided by the publisher.
  • Published by:  Other Press
  • Release Date:  08.06.2013

Love meets technology with a dash of quirk in this collection of highly original short stories
An aspiring actress meets an Icelandic Yak farmer on a matchmaking Web site. An online forum for cancer support turns into a love triangle for an English professor, a Canadian fisherman, and an elementary school teacher living in Japan. A deer and a polar bear flirt via Skype. In The Hypothetical Girl a menagerie of characters graze and jockey, play and hook up in the online dating world with mixed and sometimes dark results. Flirting and communicating in chat rooms, through texts, e-mails, and IMs, they grope their way through a virtual maze of potential mates, falling in and out of what they think and hope may be true love.

With levity and high style, Cohen takes her readers into a world where screen and keyboard meet the heart, with consequences that range from wonderful to weird. The Hypothetical Girl captures all the mystery, misery, and magic of the eternal search for human connection.

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My Review:

If you are single and an adult in this day and age, chances are you have either seriously checked out, flirted with, or used the services of some sort of online dating service.  Elizabeth Cohen recognizes this modern-day trend and, in a series of short stories, outlines some of the sadder and more pitiful stories that can emerge from the online dating world.  The Hypothetical Girl is a collection of short stories that is witty, funny, and sometimes painfully accurate in portraying life in the modern, technological world.

I have been through the online dating world miseries, and I have friends who have been, or are currently going through them as well.  It’s not a pretty world out there and some of Cohen’s more hilarious stories put that into perspective well.  Imagine, instead of cultural differences, two completely different creatures tried to work it out like… say a Bear and a Deer?  Their story is explored with a humorous yet touching feel and I found myself laughing, sympathizing, and wondering all at once what in the world I was reading.

Then, there was “Animal Dancing.”  In this short story we follow the hopes and dreams of a woman who just hopes that the man she has been attracted to online will be everything she imagines in person.  She has talked to her family about him, she has raised her hopes, imagined a life with him, yet when the moment comes…what happens?  Read the story to find out (but I bet you know, if you know anything about online dating).

I really enjoyed these stories, much more than I thought I would.  The cover is what caught my eye and, once I dove into the first story I found myself unable to put the book down.  There were a few duds in the mix, but I expect that of most short story collections, and while The Hypothetical Girl isn’t the most serious of literature, it’s still a fun look at the jungle that is the online dating world.

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