The Longings of Wayward Girls
By Karen Brown
(Washington Square Press, Paperback, 9781476724911, 336pp.)
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
It’s an idyllic New England summer, and Sadie is a precocious only child on the edge of adolescence. It seems like July and August will pass lazily by, just as they have every year before. But one day, Sadie and her best friend play a seemingly harmless prank on a neighborhood girl. Soon after, that same little girl disappears from a backyard barbecue—and she is never seen again. Twenty years pass, and Sadie is still living in the same quiet suburb. She’s married to a good man, has two beautiful children, and seems to have put her past behind her. But when a boy from her old neighborhood returns to town, the nightmares of that summer will begin to resurface, and its unsolved mysteries will finally become clear.
Karen Brown is the author of Little Sinners and Other Stories, which was named a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and Pins and Needles: Stories, which was the recipient of AWP’s Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has been featured in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, and Good Housekeeping. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of South Florida.
"Brown has always been adept at writing about adultery, skillfully evoking its interlocking elements of thrill and threat. In Longings the danger level intensifies as secrets old and new are gradually revealed, and Sadie's comfortable life hangs in the balance. Both the sex and the suspense benefit from how well Brown grounds them in sharply observed reality. The neighborhood, past and present, comes vividly to life with its shifting alliances among girls and grown women, relationships that range from deeply supportive to devastatingly cruel...it may not seem a likely setting for a ghost story, but this novel is haunted."
"A psychological suspense that grabs readers from the start...complex and haunting."
"In the time between playing with Barbies and puffing on stolen cigarettes, girl?e(TM)s games can turn dangerous?e"and sometimes fall far over the line. In The Longings of Wayward Girls, the past returns to plague the present with a vengeance that can cost a woman her husband and children. Brown?e(TM)s haunting prose sets the mood for the heartbreaking choices made by mothers and daughters."
-Randy Susan Meyers
?eoeA heart-stopping novel of suspense that?e(TM)s as intelligent as it is compelling, as beautiful as it is disturbing. ?Brown?e(TM)s skill, empathy and sensitivity make this debut stand apart, and stand out. The astute observations, evocative atmosphere and bone-chilling scenes make for a moving, provocative read. A star is born.?e
"An absorbing novel about the misgivings and shortcomings of domestic life, about the confusing intersection of glamour, lust, and self-destruction, and about a woman haunted by a long-ago act of girlhood cruelty."
"The Longings of Wayward Girls caught me by the throat from the first page. ?The dangling mystery and tale of girlhood friendships reeled me in, and I loved Brown's ability to move the reader fluidly back and forth through time. ?By the book's end, as the final truths are exhumed, I felt like I'd grown up with these characters. ?Brown has deftly crafted a first novel that will touch a chord inside anyone who has harbored a haunting secret, or been buffeted by the conflicting crosswinds of coming of age."
?eoeBrown intricately weaves together past and present, demonstrating how casual acts of childhood cruelty can linger well into a seemingly stable adult life. But Brown is also a uniquely talented writer, capable of teasing out poignant commonalities between her protagonist?e(TM)s teen and middle-aged selves. A beautifully written, unbearably tense debut novel."
-Holly Goddard Jones
?eoeNothing is as it seems in this psychologically complex story of girls gone missing and mothers who stray. Karen Brown deftly alternates between two generations of parallel drama in a neighborhood of facades and gentle menace. I stayed awake far too late with the rich tension of wondering whether she?e(TM)d bring her characters in for a safe landing.?e
"Through pitch-perfect details and an eloquent voice, Karen Brown delivers a suspenseful and memorable debut. Moving effortlessly between the late 1970s and the?present-day, Brown explores what harm may come should we choose to follow the path laid down by those who came before us."
?eoeThe Longings of Wayward Girls is an enthralling account of how a daughter follows in her mother's footsteps...but not too closely.? Brown tells a wonderfully suspenseful and eerie story as she goes back and forth between Sadie's childhood and her adult life, and the result is a novel full of mysteries, surprises, and the best kinds of psychological revelations.? Once you've discovered this haunted world, you won't want to leave it."
"The Longings of Wayward Girls?is haunting and delicate and beautiful, with the spark and charge of a psychological thriller. ?Karen Brown writes like an angel, but the shadows of past ghosts linger on every page. I could not put this compelling novel down."
"Haunting, sexy, and evocative, The?Longings?of Wayward Girls?features motherhood and daughterhood, marriage and adultery, and the simultaneous coziness and creepiness of New England suburban life, all wrapped up in a page-turning tale of suspense. A gripping debut novel."
?eoeBrown explores the hazy edges of memory, the gnawing desire to escape circumstance, and the pervasiveness of one neighborhood?e(TM)s secrets. The result is a nerve-racking, psychologically complex novel sure to haunt readers?e"especially those with dark secrets of their own."