A young woman with a secret in her past turns the need to flee into a chance at the adventure that she longs for in this delightful beach read with an edge. Expelled from college, May Marshall has been assisting with her father's moonshine operation and planning how she can find a job at a dressmaker's shop in Washington, D.C., when her father is suddenly arrested. Needing to lay low until his trial, May travels to New York City with the dream of becoming a costume designer, like her absent mother. There she discovers a glittering world of jazz with a dark underside of drug addiction.
Etiquette for Runaways marks a debut for Liza Nash Taylor that shows a remarkable ability to weave together multiple sources of inspiration into an entertaining whole. Taylor draws on stories from several centuries (listed in her author's note), but they come seamlessly together in the world of 1924 that May inhabits--fully integrated clubs but also segregated businesses where her African American friends and coworkers will be turned away or directed to the service elevator.
What could have been a perfectly fun mental palate cleanser takes on another level as May wrestles with the secret that sent her home from school, and succumbs to the temptation of cocaine. Yet, the darker side of the story never becomes oppressive. Readers will find themselves swept along with May as easily as if her adventures were all about diamonds and fur coats. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library