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Monday, December 24, 2018

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Little, Brown & Co., 352 pages, $27

I found this word in “Give Me Your Hand,” and it describes perfectly Megan Abbott’s newest book: ferocious. Megan Abbott can plumb the depths of darkness almost better than any current writer. She shades the darkness, where others merely paint it black. Her horror grows from an intensity that builds slowly. At the end, the other shoe drops as though there were a bomb inside. Abbott is a powerhouse.

Kit Owens and Diane Fleming were two teenagers on the same wavelength when they met at summer camp. Each had the potential for brilliance. Over the years, they each proved their mettle and succeeded in the daunting world of science, as females, as young women. Mostly the story follows Kit, although Diane enters and exits the story often, some of it in flashbacks that finally allow us to see piece by piece unknowable complexity of their story.

When they were teenagers, Diane confessed something to Kit that changed their relationship. Kit is held hostage to the confession. She leaves her small town, as does Diane, and Kit never looks back. It is only coincidence, she thinks, when Diane enters her life once more, into the safe and taxing world of the research lab of the renowned Dr. Severin. Kit is on track to become one of the chosen researchers to go forward with an important study on PMDD, super-sized PMS. (Blood of all sorts floods the pages of Abbott’s book.) Why do some women have such toxic and disturbing experiences during their menstrual cycles? Severin hopes to find out.

Abbott twists her way into a story which becomes increasingly disturbing. Here’s a death. Wham! There’s a disaster. Bam! Here’s an unexpected outsider. Whoa! Things disappear, ghosts are spotted (or not), the camera, if there were one, would be tilting and viewing the story from unlikely angles, making for a dizzying viewing experience.

Here is Kit describing Diane:

Sometimes it feels like Diane is a corner of myself broken off and left to roam my body, floating through my blood.

Here’s the blood again:

Don’t we all feel we have something banked down deep inside just waiting for its moment, the slow gathering of hot blood?

Brilliant writing. Brilliant storyline. MBTB star!

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