In her first novel, Alther traces the troubled, funny, heartbreaking coming of age of Ginny Babcock Bliss during the l950s and '60s. The daughter of one of the first families in Hullsport, Tennessee, Ginny bounces from one identity to another, adopting the values, politics, lifestyle, even sexual orientation of each new partner. In KINFLICKS, Alther reels through the ups and downs of Ginny's life by dividing her narrative into two sequences: Ginny herself narrates the adventures of her past while a third-person narrator takes over to describe her present, when she returns to Hullsport as an adult to care for her dying mother. Mary Cantwell, writing in THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, called KINFLICKS "an almost flawless balance of light and dark, the skittery and the sad." "Ginny is the classic outsider," noted the SATURDAY REVIEW in a rave review of the book, "and her fine sense of the comic permits the novel to approach a kind of high seriousness...A best-seller? Sure. In the august company of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN and Huck? Yes, indeed."
"Amazing...A very funny book, not at all savage, about serious matters. The tone of voice throughout is a tone that has been missing in American fiction for years -- it is the speech of breezy survivors, of Holden Caulfield, Augie March, and, ultimately, Huck Finn." -- John Leonard
"So continuously funny that its wisdom takes you by surprise...We are in the presence of a most powerful and remarkable talent." -- Alice Adams