cover image Catalina


Liska Jacobs. MCD, $15 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-374-11975-1

Jacobs’s bold debut novel opens as 30- something Elsa is fired from her executive assistant job at MoMA (where she was also having an affair with her boss). Shortly after, she returns home to California, jaded and angry, where she lives recklessly, self-medicating with a variety of pills stolen from her mother and engaging in casual sex before she and her friends board a boat for a weekend reunion in Catalina. Within the group are Elsa’s ex-husband, Robby; his girlfriend, Jane; Elsa’s childhood best friend, Charlotte; Charlotte’s flirtatious husband, ad man Jared; and Tom, one of Jared’s clients, who lives to provoke, needling Elsa throughout the trip and feeding into her hedonistic desires. Elsa is using substances during the majority of the book, but her devastating physical and emotional tailspin and the group’s exploits are tempered by Elsa’s memories of her past. These moments soften her character and add context to her destructive ways, shaping the book into a memorable character study. (Nov.)