Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When she was 17, Kit's friend Diane made a confession to her that chilled her to the bone and almost derailed her life. Now, years later, Kit is a research scientist and Diane has reappeared in her life. Will Kit be able to coexist with Diane with the dark cloud looming over them?
Megan Abbott has been a favorite of mine for the past few years and I pounced on this as soon as I saw it on Netgalley.
Give Me Your Hand is a tale of secrets and the consequences of keeping them. Sooner or later, everything comes back to bite you in the ass. Kit learns this the hard way, as do a lot of the people in her orbit. The story is told in two threads, one in high school, the other in the present day. It's a departure from her recent run of girl-noir books but change is fine in this case.
Diane and Kit were more rivals than friends, both runners, each one of the smartest in their highschool in sleepy Lanister. Yes, Lanister, oddly fitting since I compare the machinations of teenage girls in Megan Abbott's books to Game of Thrones characters. Diane confesses something to Kit that nearly drives her mad. Years later, Kit's on the verge of having the life of a scientist she always wanted when Diane pops up again, a sociopathic bad penny.
This story is doomed to take a dark turn from the start and it does, of course. I always feel like Megan's giving the male part of her audience a secret window into the relationships of teenage girls, infinitely more complex than the comparatively shallow, sex-obsessed psyche of teenage boys. Casual eating disorders and sharing deep secrets seem to be the norm.
We also get a glimpse of how tough it is for women in the science field, both in Kit and Diane's competition with their lab mates and in Dr. Severin, the bad ass female scientist that is practically Wonder Woman to Kit, who seems willing to do anything to get what she wants.
The way Diane's secret is revealed is masterful, doled out in tiny morsels until you can't take anymore. When she shows up in the present day, things quickly veer into the exact wrong direction, like S.E. Hinton by way of Jim Thompson. Then something baffling happens and there are some Telltale Heart moments and things really get tense for a while.
As with her previous books, like Dare Me, You Will Know Me, and The End of Everything, I felt wrung out by the end. While a lot of other crime books get more press, Megan Abbott's are the best thing in the genre today. Five out of five stars.
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