Stop That Girl


New York Times Book Review:  “In her first book, a novel in stories, Elizabeth McKenzie introduces us to Ann Ransom, a funny, ferocious and intensely likeable narrator.  McKenzie is an accomplished humorist and a developed stylist, and she wastes no time dazzling the reader with her clean direct language, her simple but searing use of metaphor and her unflinching eye.  The paragraphs are put together with razor sharp concision, and the book is rich in both narrative and linguistic surprise.  An original.”

Click here to read the Reader’s Circle discussion questions

Talk of the Nation
Summer Reading List

CONAN: Let’s see if we can get one recommendation from each of our – our reviewers before we have to wind this up. Oscar Villalon in San Francisco.

Mr. VILLALON: I have one more I’d like to recommend. It’s Elizabeth McKenzie’s Stop That Girl. It’s very – it’s extremely funny. It’s essentially a bunch of stories about an 8-year-old girl growing up in Southern California, and how all the sort of zany, for lack of a better word, things that happen to her as she gets older. Particularly just trying to fit in, her family, she feels sort of a misfit. She has this grandmother who’s a doctor, Dr. Frost, who also seems to be a little bit out of her mind. She’s kind of like Holly Golightly at 70, and keeps dragging her out of her normal existence and putting her in very awkward situations. I think people may really, really dig that one for the summer. Again, it’s one of very few things I’ve read that made me laugh out loud. You know, there’s a lot of things you read that are somewhat funny, you kind of, you know, snicker a little bit, but start cracking up like a madman on the bus and people look at you!

Alan Cheuse, NPR’s “All Things Considered”   “Within 15 pages Ann has broken Granny’s arm and begun her discovery that the world is a wide and various place filled with all sorts of odd people with weird ideas and motives, which pretty much describes the world of the rest of these stories, populated by angry mothers, voracious boyfriends, laid-back California entrepreneurs, an odd Australian environmentalist .Hilarious . Call these anti-fairy tales, stories that seem so true you’ll say to yourself, ‘Oh, these awful and sometimes lovely things must have actually happened.’ That’s always the mark of a convincing writer.”

C. Michael Curtis, The Atlantic Monthly:  In Stop That Girl, Elizabeth McKenzie’s observations prove to be droll, shrewd, fair-minded , and irresistibly entertaining. This is a writer whose modesty and ingenuousness threaten to disguise the range and subtlety of her gifts.”

Village Voice  “Stop That Girl is full of unexpected incidents-the damage is quirky but no less acute.  Candid, perceptive . [McKenzie’s] tales flail with reckless energy . Appealingly idiosyncratic, sharpened throughout by a keen sense of humor.”

Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Olive Kitteridge:  “Vibrant and clear, these connected stories present a portrait of a family whose members are funny and hurtful and real, and watching them touched by time and change is very affecting. There is a lovely expansiveness here; surrounding the humor is the recognition that life is a serious deal.”

Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain:  “Elizabeth McKenzie takes two difficult forms-the novel-in-stories and the coming-of-age tale-and makes them work brilliantly together. Stop That Girl  is one of the funniest and smartest fiction debuts I’ve read in a long, long time.”

Los Angeles Times Book Review  “McKenzie’s take on childhood is so smart, funny and fiercely observant.[she] keeps delivering such delicious paragraphs.Gets the youthful intimation of mortality down to perfection.”

San Francisco Chronicle  It would be easy to give up on the quirky, girly coming-of-age novel, except that when it works, there are few forms more pleasurable to read. AndStop That Girl works, on just about every level . McKenzie has produced a lovely, funny, lucidly written account . her sentences are beautifully, cleanly made, with no excess nonsense . She’s single-handedly reinvigorated the coming-of-age genre. Here is a writer towatch, and a book to breeze through with glee.”


O Magazine  “Why is it such a kick to read Elizabeth McKenzie’s “Stop That Girl?” Certainly Ann Ransom, the impulsive schoolgirl who comes of age in these interconnected tales, has more than her share of heartbreak.  Ann pursues life with a wary insight that couldn’t be more engaging. A smart, swift-paced debut.”

East Bay Express  [McKenzie] is funny, and her stories are wry and tuned to pop culture and politics.  They inspire fantasies about being her best friend.”

 Tessa Hadley, author of The Past: A deliciously intelligent novel, funny and original and exact. McKenzie has wonderful eye-and a relishing appetite-for the craziness that’s everywhere in ordinary things if you know how to look.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel  [A] delightful novel about a girl growing up in the mosh pit of family . Ann is wise beyond her years; she’s also a wiseacre. Her rebellious, buoyant nature gilds her words as well as her deeds . Smart girls everywhere will see themselves in Ann’s smart mouth. Still-it’s Ann in action that hallmarks the irrepressibly upbeat coming-of-age novel . [Stop That Girl] leads us to consider our own childhoods, and it does it in a way that is both poignant and optimistic.”

Rocky Mountain News   “Lively . Ann is an engaging heroine with keen observations and self-deprecating humor. Through her, McKenzie explores the myriad dynamics of family and friendship in evocative and graceful prose.”

Library Journal   “Mature and well wrought; although Ann is sometimes baffled by the choices of her loved ones, she does her best to respect and honor them.  This tendency, along with her humor, loyalty, and humility, makes Ann a completely likeable character in a completely likeable coming-of-age novel. Emotionally reverberant, this book is highly recommended.”

The Charlotte Observer  “Delightful and wrenching…a dynamic and honest portrait of a girl’s journey to womanhood.”

Cincinnati City Beat  The nine stories in this collection are laugh-out-loud funny, but often poignant enough to bring a lump to your throat. An intelligent, original read.”

Jenny McPheeauthor of No Ordinary Matter   “As is eminently apparent from the elegant style, sharp wit, and captivating voice in Stop That Girl, there will be no stopping Elizabeth McKenzie in her literary career. This is a superb book.”

San Francisco Magazine  Shockingly assured. What’s most wonderful about these thoroughly entertaining stories is how subtle they are.”

Daily Candy  How about a coming-of-age story with a little imagination?  Ann’s voice and sensibility give the book an extra touch of fun. (Dig the car chase that involves an estranged grandmother and Allen Ginsberg.) Stop that girl? When you get a load of her, you definitely won’t want to.”

Kate Walbert, author of Our Kind  Stop That Girl runs at breakneck speed from beginning to end; this is a wildly original, unforgettable debut, funny and poignant and perfect for anyone who has survived childhood.”

7x7 SF Magazine  Stop That Girl chronicles the heartfelt stops and starts of a California girlhood. Refreshingly sweet.”

Booklist    “Ann Ransom is unstoppable. McKenzie shows us that life in a series of stories that are linked like chains . Ann tells us of her eventful life in a matter-of-fact, deadpan voice-often wildly funny but just as often thoughtful and sad-that will appeal to both adults and YAs.”

Publishers Weekly  Wry, clever.McKenzie’s humor, Ann’s touching bravado and the collection’s subtle evocation of emotional undercurrents make this a poignant, incisive debut.”

Jane Hamilton, author of Disobedience  Stop That Girl made me laugh out loud, not only because it’s funny, but also from sheer delight.  At the same time, the novel provided that perfect companionable sadness that can only be found in a good book. Elizabeth McKenzie is a wonderful talent.”-

The Daily Trojan  Absurd situations, celebrity cameos, and lyrical writing. a witty and insightful look at the glue that holds dysfunctional families together.”

Book Lust  Stellar.Clever and bittersweet.Elizabeth McKenzie is definitely an author to watch out for.  Her writing is crisp, sharp, hilarious, touching, and utterly original.”

Kirkus Reviews  Deftly captures one woman’s life . A fine first book, alive with energy, wit, and real promise.”

Rachel Cline, author of What to Keep  “Starting with a mynah bird who says ‘Kill me!,’ Ann Ransom views her world with mordant glee. Reading Stop that Girl was like remembering a life I’ve never lived-a lucid, wistful pleasure of the keenest sort.”

Lucinda Rosenfeld, author of Why She Went Home  “Elizabeth McKenzie renders a nineteen seventies adolescence with fresh images and quiet power. I couldn’t get Stop That Girl out of my head.”

Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge  “Stop That Girl is sharp enough to make you howl with laughter, poignant enough to bring on tears. Ann Ransom, McKenzie’s brave and unforgettable protagonist, can survive her turbulent childhood only by being gorgeously, fiercely herself. This is a terrific book.”

Elizabeth McKenzie’s Stop That Girl is a series of chronological stories that, taken together, uncover the life story of Ann Ransom, a native Californian who moves from childhood to adulthood with poise, intelligence, and humor. The state of California itself serves as an important supporting character, helping to keep Ann rooted in time and space as she moves through each chapter of her life.While each story is unique in its own right, McKenzie’s lyrical style makes it easy to string each episode together to form the consistent thread of Ann’s life. In one of the early stories, ten-year-old Ann attends a neighborhood party on her own, apologizing to the host for her parents’s absence while attempting to fulfill the family’s social obligations with the grace of someone well beyond her years. (“I make it my business to look as enterprising ad possible, a team player, someone you can count on, someone who never lets you down…”) As she gets older, Ann continues to play the role of “normal one” in a family of eccentric personalities, while simultaneously attempting to forge her own identity as a young woman. In one climatic story, Ann’s grandmother pays her a visit at UC Santa Cruz on the same day as a monumental appearance by Allen Ginsberg. What follows is a car chase that culminates in a showdown between Ann, her boyfriend, and her grandmother that perfectly illustrates the push-pull dynamic which seems to define Ann’s life. For Ann, each step forward brings with it a reminder of a past that she doesn’t necessarily want to forget. It is this haunting inability to escape her past, to in fact embrace her past in order to move on, that make Ann such an endearing character and her creator such a gifted storyteller.
–Gisele Toueg

“A book I always recommend is Stop That Girl by Elizabeth McKenzie. It’s a book of short stories set in Los Angeles…the book is serious and sad at the same time. It’s a stunning work about what is lost and broken in families.”
–Caitlin Flanagan

 Stop That Girl included in Best American Nonrequired Reading (Audio CD)


Stop That Girl
by Elizabeth Mckenzie
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Format: Trade Hardcover, 224 pages
ISBN: 1400062241
Format: Trade Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN: 0-8129-7228-7

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: