The Need

Helen Phillips. Simon & Schuster, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-982113-16-2
Phillips (The Beautiful Bureaucrat) delivers an unforgettable tour de force that melds nonstop suspense, intriguing speculation, and perfectly crafted prose. While excavating a fossil quarry, paleobotanist Molly Nye and her colleagues find plant fossils unconnected to all previously identified species and random objects—a Bible describing God as “she,” a toy soldier with a monkey’s tail, a Coke bottle with a backwards-tilting logo—with odd, seemingly pointless differences from their everyday counterparts. She feels uneasy when news of the Bible draws gawkers to the site, but anxiety is no stranger to Molly; balancing work with her nursing baby and feisty four-year-old, she struggles with “apocalyptic exhaustion” and a constant fear that disaster is about to strike her kids. While her musician husband, David, is performing abroad, real danger arrives in the form of a black-clad intruder, who wears the gold deer mask David gave Molly for her birthday and knows intimate details of Molly’s life. As the stranger’s mask comes literally and figuratively off en route to a startling conclusion to their confrontation, Molly veers between panic, appeasement, and empathy for an “other” whose story is uncannily like her own except in its tragedies. Structured in brief, sharply focused segments that shift back and forth in time, the novel interrogates the nature of the self, the powers and terrors of parenting, and the illusions of chronology. Yet it’s also chock-full of small moments—some scary, some tender, some darkly witty—that ground its cerebral themes in a sharply observed evocation of motherhood. With its crossover appeal to lovers of thriller, science fiction, and literary fiction, this story showcases an extraordinary writer at her electrifying best. Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (July)
Reviewed on : 05/20/2019
Release date: 07/09/2019
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 416 pages - 978-1-5082-7977-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-7979-2
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-982113-17-9
Library Binding - 500 pages - 978-1-64358-319-8
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-982130-14-5
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