Book Reviews

Give Me Your Hand

Author: Megan Abbott
Published: July 17, 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Literary Thriller
Hardcover: 343 pages
My Rating: 3 1/2 – 4 stars

A life-changing secret destroys an unlikely friendship in this “magnetic” (Meg Wolitzer) psychological thriller from the Edgar Award-winning author of Dare Me.

You told each other everything. Then she told you too much.

Kit has risen to the top of her profession and is on the brink of achieving everything she wanted. She hasn’t let anything stop her.

But now someone else is standing in her way – Diane. Best friends at seventeen, their shared ambition made them inseparable. Until the day Diane told Kit her secret – the worst thing she’d ever done, the worst thing Kit could imagine – and it blew their friendship apart.

Kit is still the only person who knows what Diane did. And now Diane knows something about Kit that could destroy everything she’s worked so hard for.

How far would Kit go, to make the hard work, the sacrifice, worth it in the end? What wouldn’t she give up? Diane thinks Kit is just like her. Maybe she’s right. Ambition: it’s in the blood . . .

I’m glad I finally read my first Megan Abbott book. I think I avoided her books in the past because I thought they were mostly written about adolescent characters. Dare Me was a thriller about the cut-throat world of high school cheerleaders; The Fever centered on teenage girls who are experiencing mysterious seizures; in You Will Know Me, Abbott turned to young gymnasts with their eyes on the Olympics. Toxic teenage friendships are Abbott’s speciality, but in Give Me Your Hand, she explores the longer-term ramifications of a close adolescent bond.

Give Me Your Hand is set in a research lab and centers on two female scientists and the lengths they will go to advance their careers. The coveted position they are both vying for is on the research team studying PMDD premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The structure alternates between the scientists, Kit and Diane present day, and the past when they were friends in high school. There was enough of the present day adult characters to prevent me from feeling like I was reading a high school story, and the flashbacks to their early relationship was essential to understanding the present.

I loved both female characters, but I also loved the character of Dr. Severin, who runs the research lab. Her post doc students are in awe of her, and a little afraid of her. I love the way she is portrayed – a little bit of a mystical creature in the eyes of her students.

I also love Megan Abbott’s writing. So nuanced. Sometimes it’s hard to describe what makes an author’s writing so good – you just know it when you read it. Or I recognize it by the way I react to it – I want to read slowly to catch every word, and I look forward to getting back to the story when I’m not reading it. In a Megan Abbott book a group doesn’t just follow you from the room – they “follow her from the lecture hall, their dark bodies moving like a snake’s winding tail.” This quote used to describe Dr. Severin’s students.

Leave it to Megan Abbott to make a story about science and a research lab sexy and enthralling!

  • If you like this book, you may also like State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.

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