There are twelve chapters in FOREIGN GIRLS, one for every month of Sarah’s twenty-first year.
The letters throughout the book explore parts of Sarah’s character not usually on display in her day-to-day life. She interacts with faraway friends and remote family members.
The real Sarah, my aunt, was not interested in school. But she was agile with numbers, something that gives her fictional counterpart a decided advantage over her peers and coworkers.
Aunt Sarah was also a card shark. She earned lunch money playing bridge during her short stay at the university. I remember a game of gin rummy from years ago. I finally folded after a very long and agonizing fifteen minutes. She was holding the card I needed and wasn't about to surrender it. She was ninety at the time.
I don’t know much about her life in the thirties and forties, except that she was a successful buyer at Lazarus Department Store in downtown Columbus. I made up the rest.
My mother as as a teenager. She is the model for Sarah's Americanized younger sister Kati and the only one who doesn't speak with an accent.