cover image Amazing Grace Adams

Amazing Grace Adams

Fran Littlewood. Holt, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-85701-9

Littlewood debuts with an uneven perimenopause drama centered on the tempestuous relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter. Grace is 45 and recently separated from her husband, Ben. Once a gifted translator whose skills made her famous on television (the press called her a “ravishing redhead” and a “cunning linguist”), Grace feels adrift in her life, with diminishing professional prospects and a body that feels like it’s “drying up from the inside out.” She can’t believe her daughter, 15-year-old Lotte, has grown from being the baby on her hip to a distant teenager and something of a TikTok sensation. When Grace finds a sexually suggestive note in the pocket of Lotte’s blazer, her anxiety skyrockets. Then Grace learns her daughter has been skipping school. As Lotte pulls further away, Grace goes increasingly off-kilter, embarking on a frenzied, disastrous quest to bring Lotte a birthday cake. The novel employs a nonlinear timeline, with some chapters taking place in the early aughts, when Grace and Ben first met at a polyglot competition. Though the plot can feel undercooked, Littlewood easily captures the grief Grace feels at nearing the end of her reproductive years, and the mother-daughter relationship is similarly well drawn. It’s a mixed bag, but Littlewood, like her protagonist, consistently finds the right words. (Sep.)