Katia Hetter
January 26, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

In Ali Liebegott’s The IHOP Papers, Francesca, a 20-year-old virgin, deals with coming out (and everything else) by cutting herself. She falls for her philosophy prof, follows her to San Francisco, and competes with a parade of male and female lovers. Fed up with the bi/lesbian drama, she moves out and gets a job at International House of Pancakes, where her adventures — which may turn you off flapjacks for good — become a fictionalized version of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. Francesca’s reminders that she’s ”writing” the book can get annoying, but her story is a vivid reminder of how painful diner meals and coming out can be. B

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