If the 45-year-old author Gina Frangello’s 2010 story collection, Slut Lullabies, set the stage, her new novel, A Life in Men (Algonquin, $15), will attract the spotlight. Written as a diary addressed to a deceased friend, the book tells the story of Mary, a deeply broken young woman with cystic fibrosis.

While often very funny, Frangello’s second novel is also a heart-wrenching tale of emotional wanderlust, chronicling Mary’s catalog of bad decisions—something probably familiar to members of the Roscoe Village resident’s core 30-something female audience. But even those new to Frangello’s work will find her prose poignant and A Life in Men an honest meditation on love, loss, and friendship.