Girlfriend in a Coma


284 pages
ISBN 0-00-224396-2
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


In 1979, Karen, an 18-year-old student, goes into a coma after ingesting
vodka and diet pills. She is given up for dead by virtually everyone
except Richard, her high-school sweetheart. During the nearly two
decades that pass while he waits for Karen to recover, Richard becomes a
drunk and makes a mess of bringing up their daughter. In 1997, Karen
regains consciousness to find that she is a middle-aged woman with an
embittered daughter, a dysfunctional partner, and a nagging premonition
that Armageddon is just around the corner. Karen spends her last days
surrounded by her self-absorbed family members and a large circle of
former high-school friends, who all live in or near their parent’s

According to the author, the world ends with neither a whimper nor a
bang but to the tune of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets.” After
that, there is still a third of the book to read, but unfortunately none
of the main characters are well-rounded enough to make the reader want
to follow them into the postapocalypse.

Girlfriend in a Coma might initially intrigue people who have woken up
one morning and found themselves unexpectedly on the wrong side of 35,
but after nearly 300 pages of waiting for this story to begin, it is the
reader who is left in a coma.


Coupland, Douglas., “Girlfriend in a Coma,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024,