“More character study than anything, this book follows Mallory’s coming-of-age amidst grief and desire and the shame she unpacks around both.
In straightforward yet distanced prose, Mallory’s narrow point-of-view allows the reader to feel her loneliness, the way she is almost numbed to the world and the consequences of her actions except in the face of her affair with an older, married woman. In their connection, she allows the woman’s coldness to meet her own neediness, her distance preserved though she is not alone.
This is a book of desire and quiet desperation, the raw nakedness of loss and the depths we sometimes will fall in order to pull ourselves out again.”
A novel about a young woman’s life-altering affair with a much older, married woman.
Mallory is a freshman in college, reeling from her mother’s recent death, when she encounters the woman. She sees her for the first time at the university’s gym, immediately entranced. Soon, they meet, drawn by an electric tension and shared past wounds; before long, they begin sleeping together in secret. Self-possessed, successful, brilliant, and aloof—the woman is everything Mallory wants…and wants to be. Desiring not only the woman but also the idea of who she is when they’re together, Mallory retreats from the rest of the world, solidifying a sense of aloneness that has both haunted and soothed her since childhood and will continue to do so for years even after the affair ends. As an adult, Mallory must decide whether to stay safely in isolation or step fully into the world, to confront what the woman meant to her and how their relationship shaped her, for better or worse.
Mallory’s life is transformed by loss and by love and by discovering who she is while enduring both. In this enthralling debut novel, the complexities of influence, obsession, and admiration reveal how desire and its consequences can alter the trajectory of someone’s life.