cover image Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Ariel Delgado Dixon. Random House, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-24350-3

Two sisters navigate childhood trauma in Dixon’s chilling, complex debut. In a dilapidated town north of New York City in the early 2000s, the unnamed teenage narrator wrangles with her younger sister, Fawn, who becomes obsessed with being on camera after appearing on the news for discovering a severed human foot in the woods. After the narrator’s best friend dies in an accident, the narrator’s frequently absent mother enrolls her in a residential program for troubled teens called the Veld Center. In Veld’s custody, the narrator spends months hiking before settling into the strange rhythms and corrosive cliques of the treatment facility. Dixon slowly reveals the details of the sisters’ upbringing and of the narrator’s dehumanizing stint at Veld while moving ahead to the narrator’s early 20s, when she’s in a relationship with an older woman. There are clues early on that all is not well with Fawn (the narrator’s mother elliptically warns her Fawn is “on the brink”), and she does her own stint at Veld until she’s 18. When Fawn comes back to town using a false name, the narrator braces for whatever destruction she will bring in her wake. At times this can feel dizzying, but in the end the layered story lines and Fawn’s shocking actions pay big dividends. Readers will be eager to see what the author does next. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (Feb.)