The Spectacular

Zoe Whittall. Ballantine, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5247-9941-0
Whittall (The Best Kind of People) delivers a clear-eyed portrait of maternal ambivalence in her impressive latest. Missy Wood, 21, is on a mission to have her tubes tied. She’s about to go on tour with her band, the Swearwolves, and doesn’t want to worry about getting pregnant. Though two doctors say she’ll regret the move and refuse to do it, her bandmate Billy had no trouble getting a vasectomy. (“I told him I was the lead singer in a band. He got it immediately. Isn’t that sexist?”) While Missy is held up in Vancouver by U.S. customs agents for carrying cocaine, she reads a magazine story about an ashram sex scandal that mentions her mother, who left Missy when she was 13 and whom Missy hasn’t been able to locate. Whittall switches points of view between mother and daughter as their paths gradually converge, and adds an extensive and extraneous section from the point of view of Missy’s paternal grandmother, Ruth, on Ruth’s earlier life in Turkey. Whittall is excellent at writing the small, intimate details and sharp dialogue, as well as the mostly propulsive plot, while making no bones about opinions on gender inequities. Whittall is a great storyteller, and her latest does not disappoint. Agent: Samantha Haywood, Transatlantic Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/25/2021
Release date: 09/14/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-5247-9942-7
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4434-5525-1
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