With Teeth

Kristen Arnett. Riverhead, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-19150-7
Arnett (Mostly Dead Things) paints a complex picture of a queer family in this well-sculpted drama. Protagonist Sammie and her wife, Monika, have a son, Samson, who proves to be an ornery and enigmatic child. (Among other things, he willfully lets a strange man attempt to abduct him at the age of four and later carries a school project doll of himself everywhere.) Sammie is the more anxious and hands-on of the parents; she works part-time as a copy editor, while laid-back Monika excels as a lawyer. In addition to doubting her fitness as a parent, Sammie misses the social life she had pre-Samson and “didn’t like the way other women looked at her wife, didn’t like the fact that no one looked at her that way anymore.” By the time Samson’s 16, he has become a skilled swimmer and retains much of his inscrutable personality, Sammie and Monika have separated, and Sammie struggles with dating. Arnett’s prismlike prose is supplemented by vignettes focused on peripheral characters, such as Samson’s teachers, which add some maximalist flair to the domestic story. With its vividly rendered characters, this offers an intense rendition of a modern family. Agent: Serene Hakim, Ayesha Pande Literary. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/09/2021
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-593-41437-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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