Give Me Your Hand

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 May 2019

Member Reviews

2.5 stars
This book was just weird. I couldn't really connect with the storyline, and I figured out Diane's big secret long before it was revealed to the reader. Pretty much everything about the mystery/thriller portions of this story were just downright implausible to me. 
What I did like were the facets of women pursuing scientific careers, their research was very interesting and would have been better fleshed out in the story had Kit been as astute about interpersonal relations as she was about science. I felt like she was pretty savvy, even when being shown in her high school days, yet every time she got around Diane her good sense just went out the window.
I thought this story could have been better. Had the characters been consistently portrayed and the thriller section not so completely out of left field, the core idea is interesting.
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Wow, ambition and driven from an early age, it all comes back to haunt high school classmates Kit and Diane. Left me wondering if I accidentally shared any secrets that I may regret.
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I’m going to go against the grain with other reviews I’ve seen and say that I loved this book - more than “You Will Know Me,” Megan Abbott’s last smash hit. This book was the perfect amount of creepy and cold-blooded to just scare the bejeebus out of me. I couldn’t put it down.

It’s hard to describe the plot without using spoilers, but I’ll do my best: When Kit and Diane were in high school, they became friends - sort of best friends - until one fateful night when Diane shared her deepest, darkest secret with Kit. And Kit ran far, far away. In the present day, Kit is a lab assistant about to land a spot on a coveted research team - until the day when Diane walks into the lab, recruited by the boss. Kit feels her sanity and her conscience slipping as she spends more time around Diane - will the two women be forever tied together by a terrible secret? Or can they overcome their pasts?

OK, so that’s the basic gist and it plays out extraordinarily well, flipping between the past and the present to depict the strangely intense, complicated relationship between the two girls. It has so much symbolism, I could hardly keep up - Hamlet, fairy tales, red, blood! 

The twists weren’t too hard to keep up with, and I guessed at least one - but I don’t go to Megan Abbott for huge earth-shaking twists. I here for the immaculate storytelling. And this book was no different. I was so sucked in to the world of the lab and it’s players, I could hardly put my Kindle down. I was just enthralled. (But there were a couple plot points I did not guess, so don’t feel like you’ll see everything coming a mile away or anything.)

If you like dark, atmospheric stories that just draw you in and hold you until the end, this is your book.

Highly recommended.
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Big thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for my ARC of this book. It was absolutely awesome.

I have spent as much time as I can trying to formulate my thoughts on this book. I absolutely must talk about it now. 

First, I’ll warn that it’s a bit of a slow burn and as someone who really really likes the action to start immediately, I get that that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. For me, I will say there was a lot of lag in the beginning where there wasn’t much happening and the main theme seemed to be jealousy. I was still here for it, because I could see it turning into commentary on internalized misogyny and women’s mistrust of other women, etc., but nah. It’s not about that.

It’s really about the connections women have to each other, even when they don’t know it. About how, even when you look at another chick and vehemently deny that you two could have anything in common, being women does connect us because there are some experiences that connect us. 

I keep coming back to that word: connect. 

Connections are a huge part of this book in basically every sense. Connections as in nepotism and favoritism style connections. Romantic connections. Family. Friendship. We get to see how incredibly complex all these relationships are but how, much like the human brain, each part is connected and works to make us function (or not). 

Okay, I guess I’ve spent enough time on a kind of vague overview, so let me give you a more concrete look at the book: Give Me Your Hand (and I’m sorry it’s not italicized; for some strange reason my phone is not letting me select the title) is the story of two women, Kit and Diane, who share a strange kind of rivalry from childhood. It’s the kind of rivalry most people hope to  experience at some point in life: they are in competition with each other, but they initially bond over that competition and use it to make each other stronger rather than tearing each other apart. As the two girls grow closer, a Secret ultimately drives them apart while simultaneously connecting them in a way that will last for their lifetime. 

Initially—actually for a lot of this book—I thought Kit was wrong not to trust Diane. I won’t go into more spoilers than that, but even after you read the “reveal” you won’t feel that differently about anything. It’s strange because the book is a thriller and there is a very tense, climactic scene... but somehow the climax isn’t the part that matters or sticks with you. It’s truly a book about how much women are cast aside and underestimated by others in their lives, even other women. There’s a constant devaluing that happens and it changes us, I think. Anti-feminist types, I can see your eyes glazing over, but pause: you’ll like it, too. Like I said, there’s a twist. There’s a climax. There are a dozen threads that all tie together at the end. But there’s also something deeper. There is an honest look at the complex lives of women. And, with the focus on the PPMD study, there is an honest look at the fear of female bodies, not just by men; but ourselves. 

Last year, when teaching the movie Rosemary’s Baby, I was bringing in the reproductive element of the film when I found an article that argued that the central fear in Rosemary’s Baby is a fear of women’s bodies during pregnancy because of the mystery and power that comes from the changes required to create life. One of those changes is blood: “the blood is the life” as Dr. Severin would say. My husband has only told one joke through the years that made me cringe: “never trust something that bleeds for seven days and doesn’t die.” While this makes me literally want to vomit because of its misogyny, it holds a kind of truth that is constant in this book: men are terrified and angry when women are too powerful and the blood of menstruation.... it’s both an excuse and a reason to hate us. 

Wow. I could really say a lot more about this, but you should do yourselves a favor and buy this book. 
I loved this book. It’s definitely a must read. 5/5
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I am reminded anew at what an interesting author Megan Abbott is- she constantly is evolving as a writer, and I find that really encouraging. It makes me want to keep up with her releases. That said, this particular book's tropes did not fully connect with me, so though I enjoyed the writing, the book as a whole was more so-so for me. Looking forward to her next release & hopefully it will be a better fit for me
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Sorry for the delay ed review. I had higher hopes for this one. The premise sounded good, but was just too far fetched and unbelievable. So, although I enjoy her writing, this was just middle of the road at a three.
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Kit first met Diane Flemming at cross country camp in high school. Their friendship started one night when four girls were sitting around telling their secrets.   Kit told her secret, the one involving a much older man and a dark car. Her secret shocked the others, but she thought it would be the last time that she saw them.   But it wasn't.  Later that year Diane shows up at her school and soon the two are best friends who are competing for a top Chemistry scholarship.  And then Diane tells Kit her secret.  And it is worse that Kit could ever imagine.  They make it to graduation and Kit is relieved to know that she never has to see Diane again, even though her secret is one that she will never forget.

It is ten years later when Kit's boss tells her that they are bringing in one of the greatest scientfic minds to help with the million dollar research grant they just received to research PMMD.  When Diane walks in, Kit's world is rattled.  She gets drunk one night and tells one of her colleagues Diane's secret.  And then Diane discovers a new secret about Kit that could destroy everything she has worked so hard to achieve.  Will Kit be able to keep Diane from revealing what she knows and at what cost?

I am not going to sugarcoat it, I struggled with this one. Kit and Diane were both had rough childhoods and were very ambitious women with one thing in mind - success. At any cost.  Kit was on the verge of  having all of her career dreams come true when Diane came back into her life.   The author tells the story in a "Then" and "Now" type of narrative, so you get the full sordid history between the two girls.  I have read every book by Megan Abbott and I usually find them engaging and suspenseful. With Give Me Your Hand it just all seemed - implausible. And that really disappointed me. The part where the author lost me was in the lab - an important scene, but it  had me saying "Come on, really?"  - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS 

Bottom Line - I really wanted to like Take My Hand as much as I liked Megan Cabbott's other books.  I just couldn't.  I would be really interested to hear what others thought of this book, maybe I was just having an off day.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
Pages: 352
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Publication Date: 7/17/18
Buy it Here!
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Interesting in theory, the setup and characters are unique, at least initially. There isn't anything too groundbreaking or really that entertaining. I don't like typing that as I really wanted to love the book. It was just "okay".
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Thank you Little, Brown and Company for giving me a copy of Give Me Your hand for review. All opinions are my own.

Give Me Your Hand is a slow burn suspense about two women, their friendship and their secrets.
Kit and Diane were high school friends until Diane shared a secret that haunted Kit for years. Now a chemist, Kit has the chance to work out a groundbreaking study and soon finds herself working with Diane again. They soon find themselves in a dangerous position and Kit struggles with the knowledge once again.

I liked this story but could not really get into the characters. I found it hard to get into such a slow burn because I just was not relating to any of them. I did however love that these women were scientists and in a position to do some real research. As a science nerd, I appreciated all the lab details and behind the scenes action in research. 
Overall, interesting idea just couldn’t connect with the lead characters therefore making it hard for me to really enjoy the slow burn plot.
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I really enjoyed this novel by Megan Abbott.  The story revolves around friends that are academically competitive and later in life also become rivals at a research laboratory where the famous head scientist encourages “cut throat “ competition.  Along the journey a grave secret is shared between the two friends.  It is interesting to note that both main characters are female .  The head of the lab is also female. Although I would not consider this to be a feminist novel the choice of female characters is refreshing.  A secret can be a burden and this is the case for the secret shared between these two “friends”.  l thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  The novel was both suspenseful and thought provoking.  The author did an excellent job developing the characters.  I thought about this novel long after I had finished reading it.
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Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for providing me with a copy of Megan Abbott’s novel, Give Me Your Hand, in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT- In high school, Kit and Diane were close-friends, primarily because they were both driven and competitive, both at the top of their class and interested in science. This is where the similarities end. Kit is from a single-mother household, where finances are tight. Diane has divorced, yet wealthy parents and lacks for nothing. Kit is somewhat scruffy and Diane is refined. Kit has social skills and the ability to easily make friends, where Diana is an ice-queen, only friends with Kit. 

The girls maintain a friendship primarily based on intense study sessions, until one evening when Diane reveals a shocking secret. Kit is undone by Diane’s revelation and since it is close to graduation, she simply stops spending time with Diane, knowing that after high school, the their lives will head in different directions.

A decade later, Kit is working in a laboratory under the prestigious Dr. Severin, a female scientist who is awaiting funding for her groundbreaking study on PMDD. As they receive word that the study is funded, Dr. Severin surprises the staff by announcing that she will only be continuing with two people, Kit and a new hire, Diane. Kit’s world is rocked by the reappearance of Diane. Will Diane’s secret continue to haunt Kit? 

LIKE- I’m a fan of Abbott’s writing and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Give Me Your Hand. One of Abbott’s greatest strengths is in creating vivid characters with intense emotional lives. She lays them bare and exposes all of their greatest weaknesses, the types of shortcomings and mortifying thoughts that most people would never admit about themselves. I always cringe when I encounter her characters, but I cringe because those moments ring true. Her characters can be petty and they don’t always make good choices. They act like real people and are compelling. 

Along with this, she does such a great job at writing teenage characters. Give Me Your Hand flashes back to Kit and Diane in high school. In a particular cringe-worthy moment Kit reveals a sexual experience she had while being driven home after a babysitting job. The moment she describes is incredibly uncomfortable, but the reason that she is telling the story is worse. She is telling it while on a school trip and in a desperate attempt to fit in with the other girls, she decides to reveal this secret, thinking that it will help her image. As an adult reading this and having the hindsight of age, I want to shake her (and give her a hug), but also as an adult, I can remember those moments at that age. It’s awful. Abbott’s writing is so skillful that it made me feel both a sense of nostalgia and anxiety. 

I can’t remember reading many, if any, novels set in a lab, let alone those with strong female lead characters. Go women, go science! Abbott gets bonus points for this. 

The early parts of the novel have some great suspense and mystery building. I was eagerly turning the page and curious as to how everything would unfold. Diane’s secret is teased out for a long time too. I kept turning the page, Abbott had my attention.

DISLIKE- Okay, truthfully, I was disappointed in the last third of the story. I was hyped up and along for the ride, but the twists at the end fell flat. I didn’t have a good pay-off.

RECOMMEND- Maybe. I definitely recommend reading Abbott, but Give Me Your Hand wasn’t her best book.
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I wanted to like this book more but I felt myself forcing myself to keep reading. This was my first Megan Abbott book.  I am hoping the others are better. It just took too long to get to the point. I lost interest in the characters.  Just okay.
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I found this story rather disturbing, so many killings for senseless reasons.  Definitely a suspenseful story but not the story for me.
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Give Me Your Hand is not the thriller I was expecting.  It is not a fast-paced story where you are wondering what will happen next.  Instead, Kit Owens is a researcher who has a woman from childhood appear back in her life, which is problematic because she didn't want to have to ever see her again.  Throughout the story in flashbacks, you learn why Diane Fleming was a problem for Kit.  The dynamics that played out between the two women was tenuous and not completely relatable for me.  I didn't really feel they had a solid friendship before the secret was shared.  The two main characters were not fleshed out enough for me to really understand the motivations and behaviors of each.  I was left not startled, surprised, or unnerved by how the story unfolded.  In the end, I was wishing to have had Diane's side of the story (with motivations) or a narrator's clearer perspective.  I did enjoy the setting.  Overall the scientific research on women's health and the lab setting in the story was like another familiar character.  Reading about "the blood" and its potential effects made me want to learn more on the subject.
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We're going to start with the good. I enjoyed the back and forth between the past and present of this story. I like seeing how Kit and Diane's friendship began and what happened to break them apart. I found myself wondering what Diane's secret was and how it shaped who Kit ended up being in the present day.

Unfortunately, Megan Abbott is one of those authors that always falls flat for me. The premise of her books always sounds interesting, but then I start reading one and I end up disappointed. This was much the same. It didn't hold my attention. I found myself finding other things to do so I wouldn't pick this book up. And although I finished it and it was okay, I don't think it's the kind of book I would recommend to one of my friends.

This book was just okay for me. If I had to grade it, I would give it a C. The story was fine, but I didn't crave to read it. I did finish it. But next month I probably won't remember much of it. Lackluster. Good but not great.
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If you, like me, enjoy novels that center around the extremely complex nature of female friendship, you won't want to miss Give Me Your Hand, the latest standalone thriller by author Megan Abbott. It's an engrossing mix of spine-tingling suspense and the kind of relationship drama so many of us have experienced over the course of our lives. Plus, a great deal of the action takes place in a chemistry lab, something I ended up enjoying far more than I expected.

Kit Owens has never wanted to stand out from the crowd. She's a good student who enjoys keeping her head down and concentrating on her studies. She's pretty sure she'll go to college someday, but she doesn't yet have a clear idea what career path she'll explore. Then, the enigmatic Diane Fleming joins Kit's chemistry class, and Kit's life begins to change almost immediately. Suddenly, getting good grades is no longer enough. It's now imperative that Kit rise to the top of her class and earn her acceptance into an elite summer program for students who plan to work in the field of chemistry once they graduate from college. Diane is determined to be one of the participants in the program, and her self-confidence brings out a competitiveness in Kit that no one has seen before now. The two girls strike up an unlikely friendship, and Kit works harder in school than ever before - but will it be enough to earn her one of the coveted spots in the program?

Kit and Diane don't spend all their time studying though. They also spend a great deal of time discussing their hopes and dreams for the future. Kit has never had a friend like Diane, and she soon becomes convinced the two of them are destined to spend their lives as partners at some exclusive chemistry lab. And then, Diane reveals a terrifying secret, and everything Kit thought she knew about her friend is called into question. She's terrified by what Diane has shared with her, and she has no idea how to deal with the momentous nature of the secret. She eventually cuts off all contact with Diane, determined to pretend their friendship never happened.

A decade later, Kit is living her professional dream. She has landed a position at one of the most distinguished labs in the country, and she just knows she's about to be part of something that will truly change the way women's health is viewed worldwide. But when Diane joins the team, Kit's insecurities begin to rise to the surface. Why has Diane re-entered her life after all this time, and is it possible she's seeking some kind of revenge for the way Kit ended their friendship all those years ago?

I was initially a bit intimidated by the idea of reading something that was so heavily focused on science, a subject that has never managed to capture my attention. I worried that I be bemused by all the discussions of scientific research, but that isn't how things turned out at all. Kit and Diane are working as part of a team studying a menstrual disorder, and Ms. Abbott does a great job of including enough scientific information to give the story an authentic feel without getting too bogged down in scientific minutiae. I was able to follow the story with no difficulty even though I know next to nothing about chemistry.

The story is told exclusively from Kit's point of view, and we move back in forth in time between the past and the present. I was a little frustrated by how long it took for Diane's secret to be revealed to the reader. It felt like Ms. Abbott was intentionally drawing things out in an attempt to create suspense, but I would have rather learned the truth a little sooner. It would have made it a lot easier to understand why Kit has such conflicted feelings about Diane's reappearance.

I read a lot of thrillers these days so it's pretty hard to surprise me, but I'm pleased to report that Ms. Abbott managed to do just that; I didn't see the ending coming at all. I was pretty sure I had things figured out, but nothing went as I expected. I love it when an author can lead me down one road while managing to lay the foundation for something completely different to take place.

Give Me Your Hand received quite a bit of buzz in the weeks leading up to its release, and it managed to live up to all the hype. It's a book I'm quite happy to recommend to those who enjoy twisty mysteries that plumb the depths of the female psyche.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo
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This was extremely disturbing. I had trouble connecting to the main characters in the adult chapters and was not sure what to do with the twists at the end.
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This book features characters who are smart, driven, and ruthless when it comes to their personal career goals.  I enjoyed the story for the most part. There were times when the details became a bit too tedious, or when the back-and-forth between characters got on my nerves.  The ending surprised me more than I expected.  I didn't see the big twist coming.  However, there were a few loose threads that didn't make sense, and they didn't get tied up at the end.
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Megan Abbott does one thing spectacularly well- describe the inner life of young women. Whether those women are gymnasts, high schoolers, or scientists, she has the internal monologue and conflicted emotions of her test subjects (I mean characters) perfectly in mind and write them authentically and frighteningly. Because underneath it all, aren't women complicated and intense creatures? She winnows her way into the innermost thoughts of her characters, depicts their motivations in initially confusing and finally revelatory ways- she's a master of this art. All that said, Give Me Your Hand was not my favorite of her books. I appreciated the title and the friendship (if that's the right word) of the two women by the end. The pacing of this one seemed a bit off, however. I could have spent more time at the lab with our heroine, or conversely could have dealt with a great deal more of her home life. Either way, I think we all have a little Kit in us, and maybe a touch of Diane. I also enjoyed living the life of a lab rat for a few days, occupying the world of science as an outside observer much in the way that these two women are both outside observers of their own lives. Four stars, and a recommendation to read The Fever if you haven't!
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DNF after 100 pages.

I can see this being a book that many people will enjoy, however it is not for me.  
While I have enjoyed other mystery / thrillers that have a similar structure to this (not given a ton of background info right off the back, a mysterious relationship between the the main character and someone from their past, competition)  I found that I wasn't really able to get absorbed in the story and the characters. 
I'm sure there is going to be an intriguing reveal but I honestly didn't feel invested enough in the story to stick around and find out what it was.
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