One Pill Makes You Smaller by Lisa Dierbeck
A Novel

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A brilliantly original novel of the 1970s counterculture

Alice Duncan is an eleven-year-old girl who looks so much like a grown woman, she attracts the attention of adult men. Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her father who has checked himself into a mental asylum, Alice and her sixteen year old Aunt Esme live on their own in an Upper East Side townhouse, entertaining teenage boys, shoplifting at department stores, and dining on cookies and pizza--until Esme decides to fly off to L.A. with a singer in a punk rock band. Alice, left to her own devices, travels by bus to North Carolina to attend the Balthus Institute, a shadowy art school for gifted children. While Alice is being groomed to become an artist, she meets a wheelchair bound photographer of broken dolls, a queenly French surrealist sculptor, a pair of twins who are child prodigies, and a charming, sinister character known only as "J.D." A hedonistic drug dealer who is equal parts criminal and prankster, J.D. slowly inducts Alice into an outlaw counterculture. They form a dangerous friendship.

Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, One Pill Makes You Smaller is the story of a young girl forced to navigate a bewildering adult world where morality is turned upside down. Set in the permissive seventies and suffused with the atmosphere of that reckless time, the novel portrays a young girl's unwilling tumble toward adulthood and exposes the darker corners of America's past.


About Lisa Dierbeck

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Lisa Dierbeck lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. One Pill Makes You Smaller is her debut novel.
Published September 1, 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 325 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for One Pill Makes You Smaller

Kirkus Reviews

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Wanting to follow an Iggy Pop–like rocker to LA, Esme decides to ship Alice off to the Balthus Institute, a summer camp for seriously artistic adolescents.

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Publishers Weekly

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Alice lies about her age and falls in with a dangerous crowd, including Esmé's primary drug supplier, J.D., a 30-something predator once dismissed from Columbia University, who deals her a dose of reality as he sees it and introduces her to words like "corrupt," "seduce" and "rape," which had nev...

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