In the mordantly funny “Money, Geography, Youth,” Vanessa arrives home from a gap year volunteering in Ghana to find that her father is engaged to her childhood best friend. Unable to reconcile the girl she went to dances with in the eighth grade and the woman in her father’s bed, Vanessa turns to a different old friendship for her own, unique diversion.
In the subversive “The Brooks Brothers Guru,” Amanda drives to upstate New York to rescue her gawky cousin from a cult, only to discover clean-cut, well-dressed men living in a beautiful home, discussing the classics, and drinking sophisticated cocktails, moving her to wonder what freedoms she might willingly trade away for a life of such elegant comfort.
And in “The Universal Particular,” Tamar welcomes her husband’s young stepcousin into their home, imagining they are saving this young woman from Somalia by way of Stockholm, only to find their cool suburban life of potlucks and air-conditioning knocked askew in ways they cannot quite understand.
Populated with imperfect families, burned potential, and inescapable old flames, the thirteen stories in We Want What We Want are, each one, diamond-sharp—sparkling with pain, humor, and beauty.