Book Review: Beauty is pain

Stetz’s essay ‘Fabricating Girls: Clothes and Coming-of-Age Fiction by Women of Color’


  • Lauren Wakefield Nottingham Trent University


This review examines the points laid out by Margaret D. Stetz on how the clothing of young girls is written into coming-of-age fiction and how this helps to illustrate a character’s identity.

The essay is examined in relation to the novel The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu to see if any of the points raised by Stetz could be identified in Nzelu’s debut novel, such as Stetz’s in-depth analysis of clothing as way of connecting with your past and Nzelu’s protagonist Nenna’s longing for a connection to her Igbo-Nigerian heritage.

I focused on the clarity of Stetz’s essay and on how well the issues she raises can be used in examining a coming-of-age novel, and more specifically how it relates to the adolescence of young women of colour.