Give Me Your Hand

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

Diane and Kit were great friends, until they weren't.  Now all of the things that used to bring out the best in one another is having the opposite effect and before long it may destroy them both.  Gripping, page turning, thrill ride.
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Megan Abbott’s Give Me Your Hand is considered to be, depending on the publication you read, one of the most anticipated books of the summer of 2018. Of course, there are reasons for this, but at the top of the list must be that Abbott is simply a gifted writer. Abbott’s forte is psychological thrillers about women who compete at very high levels against each other and all the evil things that these women do. This was the case with her breakout hit from a few years ago, Dare Me, and Abbott returns to this subject matter in her latest book. It is a taut page-turner once you get through the book’s halfway point, and there were times where I had to just stop and tell myself that this was only a book, that the things that are happening didn’t actually happen to real people, and I should just try to chill out a bit.

The novel is about two women, Kit and Diane, and is set in two different time periods: first, the novel is set back in the pair’s high school days, when Diane unloads a bombshell of a secret on Kit, who is torn between telling someone the truth of the horrible thing Diane did and keeping pace with her as one of two female students in the school who is competing for a prestigious scholarship. Second, the novel is set in the present day, some 12 years later, with Kit, who is now a chemist and researcher, set to probably be given a post on a very prestigious study on the link between a pre-menstrual disorder and violence in women when Diane comes hopping into the lab — and it is expected that she will take a spot on the research team. What could go wrong? Lots, apparently.

I’m torn as to whether this is Abbott’s best book that I’ve read — in addition to Dare Me, I’ve paged through The Fever, a tale about disease in female high school students — or if Give Me Your Hand is the weakest of the three. The reason for the weakness is because the first 150 pages or so are fairly routine for this sort of thing — it doesn’t take much to figure out what Diane’s terrible secret is, which is revealed halfway through the book. However, the novel picks up from there at a galloping pace, and I couldn’t honestly figure out which way things would turn. True, the book does suffer a bit from having multiple endings, but for a sheer thrill ride of a novel, nothing beats the last 180 pages or so of Give Me Your Hand.

There’s something notably different about this book, and it’s that Abbott’s writing style has changed. Dare Me was full of clipped, masculine sentences (it was a book about a cheer-leading team, after all), while the writing in Give Me Your Hand is more fluid and straight-forward. While some might be sad that some of Abbott’s stylistic ticks are largely absent, the book is still a heart-quickening read about what ladies will do when pushed into a corner. As this novel deftly notes, women are indeed the fairer sex and are less likely to be prone to violence. But when Give Me Your Hand does turn violent, the blood flow is very nasty indeed. If you ever wondered what Sam Peckinpah might do if he had a set of ovaries, Give Me Your Hand comes pretty close at detailing that imagined scenario. Abbott spares nothing in her details of a murder, even of the seemingly bloodless sort, and the book’s pages are figuratively awash in crimson red.

This is also a novel about competition between women, and just how hard it is to rise in the ranks in any professional standing in a world inhabited by men, such as the scientific research world. If anything, Give Me Your Hand shows the inverse of the #MeToo movement, where women are kind of being portrayed as passive victims that nobody will believe, so it comes at a very odd time in the global zeitgeist. In this novel, women will do virtually anything to get ahead — though some women, it should be noted, are torn between reporting the truth and being active participants in the competitive carnage that may lead to lives being lost. There’s a fair bit to chew on here when it comes to gender roles, and, if anything, Megan Abbott shows why she’s the ultimate woman writer writing about the bad things women do to other women (and men).

Overall, I quite enjoyed Give Me Your Hand even as it gave me heart palpitations from all of the twists and turns of the plot — just as I thought the book was going to go one way, it acknowledges the thought and then leads readers down another altogether unexpected slope. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t see the ending coming, which is a positive thing, though I do have questions about how a certain “murder weapon” used was pilfered without notice. Or how the nasty little secret that Diane harbors doesn’t get found out by the police. Give Me Your Hand, though, is a book about these details — and how they don’t really matter too much when it comes to being a woman who wants to climb the corporate ladder, integrity or not be damned. This is a thoughtful read with a lot of zip and pow, one that will make you think and sweat in equal measure. Give Me Your Hand shows that it’s tough to be a woman in terms of being taken seriously, but hopefully that fate doesn’t befall Megan Abbott. The effectiveness of her psychological thrillers or not, she’s one of the best prose stylists we have and her books, as brainy as they are, are a lot of fun, too.
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Megan Abbott's 10th novel, Give Me Your Hand (Little, Brown & Co., $27), is a taut, visceral study in academic noir. Her protagonist, scientist Kit Owens, is one of three brilliant, ambitious women who work on an intriguing project in a research lab riddled with jealousy, suspicion and cutthroat competition.

Interview with the author at:
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Another great example of why Megan Abbott is one of my favourite authors. The story was beautifully written. I enjoyed the plot and who couldn’t resist falling in love with the main characters! I would highly recommend this book!
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Kit Owens and Diane Fleming are exceptionally gifted students.  Kit is a shy, bookish girl who has ambitions for achievement in life that takes all her time and effort, even in high school.  Her parents have little money, so a scholarship to college is the only path to meet her goals. Diane seems to have everything, money, and an extroverted personality.  She is beautiful, and Kit has to work hard not to envy Diane.  The two girls bond at a summer camp where Diane divulges a secret to Kit that will eventually change both their lives.  When Diane shows up in Kit's chemistry class, the story's tension starts a nice slow burn.

The competitions are between the two girls; they outperform all their peers.  The prizes include a Severin Scholarship (named after a famous researcher), a college scholarship, and top place in the graduating class.  Kit wins the awards, and her perfect life unfolds before her.  After her doctoral studies, Kit earns a spot in Dr. Severin's lab, and she is happy, truly happy.  When a new National Institute of Health Grant comes up, Kit isn't worried about her place on the team.  Then, Diane arrives.  The exciting and wild part of the novel is when these two brilliant women come together.  The suspense in this part of the book was phenomenal.  I loved it!

Thank you, NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for giving me the opportunity to read this e-ARC.
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Thank you Little Brown & NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

This might be one of the most unique twists on a mystery/psychological thriller that I have read all year - this is a perfect slow burn that drags your forward with a never-ending sense of doom, and I enjoyed every tense second of it.

Kit is a brilliant scientist - a world she owes in part to her equally brilliant high school friend Diane, who pushed her far beyond what Kit had dreamed for herself.  Kit hasn't seen Diane since high school, not since Diane shared her worst secret with Kit, a secret that Kit never wanted to be responsible for.  Until the day that Diane arrives at the lab where Kit works, competition for a highly prestigious project, and as mysterious and secretive as ever.

Hands down, my favorite aspect of this story is the fact that it is centered around brilliant, strong, willful, trailblazing women. Women with absolutely remarkable brains and careers, who are powerful competition for each other, as well as the men in the story.  It is refreshing to see women portrayed in such a fierce manner - and to see women represented in the science sector so boldly.  Despite the murderous plot to the story - the center of this story remains grounded in powerful women.

Second to that, I loved the mystery to this story. This was one that burned out slow, moving back and forth from present day to when Kit and Diane were in high school together, letting the secrets between them unravel a bit at a time.  Occasionally Kit's paranoia felt a bit repetitive for me, although always plausible to her place in the action.  I did appreciate as well, the fact that while these were women who could be calculated and cold, they were also very exceptionally human, and Megan Abbott does terrific work keeping that connection.

I burned through this book so quickly, as it became deeply addictive to see just how twisted and dark the characters really were, and how many more twists were going to land before it ended.  It did not disappoint, and kept me hooked to the very last scandalizing page.  This is a must read for thriller lovers out there - don't let this one slip away.
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You Should Read This If:
-You’re okay with Meg Abbott writing. Choppy. Descriptive. Grammatically dramatic. (See what I did there?)
-You’re not necessarily looking for a straight-forward mystery, but a deeper tale that’s more about understanding the psyche than solving a crime.

All of Meg Abbott’s books seem to take place in a microcosm. They’re not mysteries - not really, since there are never enough suspects for a whodunnit. Her novels are a look under a microscope at a community of people brought together through some shared passion. Gymnastics. Cheerleading. Science. Nuanced interactions and complicated relationships are what Meg Abbott does best.

Give Me Your Hand is similar to its predecessors in that way. You’ll spend the novel living inside Kit’s head as she navigates the complexities of female friendship and navigating STEM field as a women. There are dead bodies, but you won’t be so much asking whodunit? as why do it? 

Here’s the thing: Meg Abbott is a weird writer. No bad-weird, just unique. She writes in clippy sentences, taking extreme liberties with syntax. For the most part, I enjoy the style, but recognize it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. What I have trouble with are her irritating overabundance of similes. (“Shadow falling between her eyes like a warning” “Hanging out like a stubbed toe over the parking lot” “her face like a corsage, crushed.” Jesus, enough.)

The book has a consistent sizzle to it, never fully igniting or extinguishing. At times, it felt like one of those songs from the 60s, when they didn’t know how to conclude their tune so they just kept repeating the refrain until it faded away.  Even the moments that should have felt climactic sort of just simmered.

Overall, I liked it and I moved through it quickly. But if you’ve read one of Meg Abbott’s, you’ve basically read them all.
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Kit and Diane were close friends and academic rivals when they were teens. Both wanted to win the Severin scholarship and so they competed in grades to the point where one was valedictorian and one was salutatorian at their high school graduation; but only one could win the scholarship.

Twelve years later, Kit is working at the Severin Lab when suddenly Diane is also hired. Kit learned a terrible secret about Diane before their high school graduation and since then the two have become very distant. Strange things begin to happy in the lab after Diane is hired.

The main themes are misogyny, secrets and the damage they can cause, ambition and the many obstacles to success for women.

Although I generally like Megan Abbot’s books, the beginning of this one seemed slow but it picked up about half-way. I could not put it down but I wanted it to go faster.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown & Company for the ARC.
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This is the first book I have read by Megan Abbott by it definitely won't be my last.  What a great story starting when the girls are in high school to years later in the work force!  Just shows you, that what happens in your past and the people you meet can always come back.
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Thank you netgalley and Little, Brown & Co. for the digital ARC!

This is definitely a thrilling read and for me it was fast paced. It's one of those reads where you find yourself reading a vast amount in one sitting. I kept flipping through the story trying to figure out what would happen next. The psychological parts of this book was right up my alley, but I did tend to get a little lost in the science parts.
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Thank you to @netgalley and @littlebrown for providing me a copy of this novel for an honest review.  Rotating between the past and present, we learn about two women who share a dark secret.   After parting ways after high school, Kit never thought that she would see Diane again. Now, ten years later, while Kit is working as the only female in a science lab, Diane suddenly returns.  Thus, creating a new rivalry to be the very best.  Will their secret stay hidden or will new ones be created to protect the past?
I had high hopes for this one.  However, it didn't take off quick enough for me.  I felt like I wasn't really interested until more than halfway through. Even then, I wasn't invested in the characters as much as I should've been.  The plot did pick up for awhile, but then fell flat for me at the ending.  
#books #suspense #julyrelease
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As a longtime fan of Abbott’s , I flew through this book. The premise was interesting and caught me from the start. Diane and Kit had known each other as teens and Diane had told Kit her deepest, darkest secret, which Kit had kept. But as Diane shows up years later, encroaching on her territory, things changed. 

As the story moved along, I kept up with the book and the premise. The read was fast but the plot was easy to figure out mid-book. As a reader, though you knew what was going to happen, it still played out well, and the ending was surprising.
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At a time when I question whether the thriller genre has perhaps jumped the shark (thank you Fonzie!), along comes a book to re-establish my faith. Narrated by Kit, the book doesn't hide anything. There is no big secret reveal or unreliable narrator. Instead you get a solid story of two girls who meet in high school and are both friends and rivals. Diane tells Kit a horrible secret which haunts Kit for the rest of her life. Several years later they start working together in a laboratory on a research project regarding PMDD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Basically, it is PMS to the extreme. The research is a terrific counterbalance to what has taken place and what is currently happening. Ms. Abbott tosses in some Shakespeare, Immanuel Kant, and Madame Curie references to create a smart and twisty story, one worthy of her intelligent characters. At one point, I put the book down because I knew what was going to happen next and wanted to savor the moment. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a well written thriller or might even be wondering if there is nothing new to offer. There is. This is it.
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Kit and Diane are high school friends who excel in science. But Diane shares a terrible secret with Kit and it tears their friendship apart. Years later, the two encounter each other again when they are both working as scientists. Unfortunately, Kit learns that the first secret that Diane tells her is not the only one and there are devastating consequences.

Megan Abbott is a master at writing about the nuances of female relationships. Diane is a complicated character and I couldn’t decide whether to hate or feel sorry for her. Ultimately she did terrible things, yet the circumstances of her upbringing are tragic. Kit is also a multifaceted woman and the whole aspect of her being an introverted scientist in a classically male-dominated field was fascinating.  

Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown & Co, for providing me with a complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Like many a Megan Abbott book before it, this was fantastic yet also kind of crushing. 

Though she started by writing what I'd call a sort of neo-noir, Abbott really hit her stride as a writer exposing the fragile, perilous place that is Girl World. Though this is not normally a subject that interests me, Abbott hooked me with the brutal, fascinating-yet-cringeworthy Dare Me.

Give Me Your Hand is a slight departure from Abbott's psychological Girl World dramas, blending elements of that with the noir genre where she got her start. 

Though I didn't much like her pure noir offerings, this hybrid book really hit the mark for me. The characters are strong, complex, and fascinating. All flawed and yet (almost) all sympathetic. 

The lab politics set the atmosphere for the book, but it's really Diane and Kit's complicated relationship that drives the plot. The little doses of noir-esque details (the ceiling! Eek!) keep the story moving, and even (weirdly) lighten the heft of it. 

While the mood is similar to Dare Me, The End of Everything, etc., Abbott showed some range here, diving into the lives of high-achieving female scientists instead of her usual cheerleaders and gymnasts. I love that Abbott-whether examining star athletes or star students-always focuses on ambitious women, all of whom are (despite their flaws and insecurities) worthy of our time as readers.
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A smart fierce thriller with a bloody theme.   If you are looking for a book to read in one sitting, look no further for pure satiated reading satisfaction.
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Give Me Your Hand is another thrilling ride written by Megan Abbott.  I always look forward to Abbott's new books as she really knows how to write a great suspense novel.  Diane and Kit met in high school where they soon formed a competitive friendship as they competed for an exclusive science based scholarship.  The story is told in a series of present day and flashback to high school chapters.  Lots of mystery and intrigue in this well-written tale.  Read and enjoy!
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At 1:30 Saturday morning, I finished reading GIVE ME YOUR HAND. It was worth every one of those late minutes!
Kit Owens and Diane Fleming are not your normal teen girls. (I'm not sure if Megan Abbott has written any stories about normal teen girls, come to think of it.) They are good students and they both jog. They push each other to be better runners and they both come to realize that they want to be scientists. Every since the beautiful and mysterious Dr. Severin came to their school to talk about her lab work and what it meant to perform studies and to do research, they both dedicate themselves to their goal. Then Diane shares a dark secret with Kit, one that Kit can't get out of her mind-one that's eating her alive. But eventually Kit gets past it and they both graduate and move on with their separate lives.
Fast forward a number of years and Kit has achieved her goal. She works in Dr. Severin's lab and is vying for an important spot on a team studying PMDD, a horrible offshoot of PMS that causes all kinds of problems for women. She's almost certain to obtain that rare position-that is until she's told that Diane Fleming is also vying for the same spot. How will Diane's return affect Kit? Who will get those valuable positions on Dr. Severin's team? What about the secret they both share, how will it affect them now that they are together again? You'll have to read this to find out!
Megan Abbott's writing is pure gold and this book is no different. Inside the warped minds of teenage girls and then again inside their heads as women, she nails it. Not only that, she unflinchingly depicts what it's like for women in the mostly man's world of scientific academia. With fierce competition at hand these men are respectful...until they're not. As a woman in a mostly man's world, (just cars, nothing hoity toity like science), I could identify with these women and what they went through. In the end though, a scientific world and some chauvinistic attitudes are only a small part of this twisted tale.
I felt that the pacing of this story was fast and I had a difficult time pulling away from it. Just when I thought I'd read one more chapter something else would happen and I was compelled to read on. This is my favorite Megan Abbott book so far, (though I still have a few to read yet), and it was partially because I'm a super fan of the THEN and NOW format and it worked beautifully here. It helped build the tension and suspense and just kept me going on. And on. And on...until the stunning denouement that floored me. Floored me, I say!
GIVE ME YOUR HAND was an excellent mystery/thriller/suspense novel full of interesting and mysterious characters and it was a BLAST! I highly recommend it!
Available everywhere on July 17th, but you can pre-order your copy here: GIVE ME YOUR HAND
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*
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No other crime fiction author can so perfectly and eloquently distill the complexities of female relationships in the way that Megan Abbott can and does repeatedly. Whether she is writing about classic femme fatales, kidnapping victims, high school cheerleaders, or elite athletes, Abbott has proven again and again that while her novels always center around crime, it is the female characters at the core that are truly worth exploring. With Give Me Your Hand, Megan Abbott once again excavates well below the surface in a story of female friendship, jealousy, and rivalry amidst extreme professional pressure.

Kit Owens and Diane Fleming meet in chemistry class at Lanister High. There is an immediate bond, a linkage that will follow them through life. What starts as a friendship morphs towards a competitive angle, with mutual respect and more than a note of fear always present. When both girls apply for the same STEM scholarship, a repeated pattern of healthy competition begins to emerge.

“…you don’t have a self until you have a secret.”

But then Diane tells Kit her darkest secret and the tentative nature of their friendship is shattered. The two part ways and life goes on. Kit continues with her interest in the world of science, rising up through the ranks within her laboratory-based career. When she hears that her idol, Dr. Lena Severin, is launching a new research endeavor examining the causes and effects of severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder, Kit immediately wants to be part of the team. The problem is, so do all her fellow Severinites at her current lab. Confident that she can beat any of them, Kit’s plans are suddenly thrown into disarray when Diane Fleming shows up also coveting a spot on Dr. Severin’s project.

“To be so ordered and so out of control.”

Bringing these two women together again stirs up the memories of their past together. Megan Abbott tells this story from the point of view of Kit Owens, so readers are only granted one half of the full story. This structure grants Abbott the ability to slowly build suspense around what exactly Diane’s secret is, to such an extent that it will have readers begging for relief. And when Kit does finally reveal the truth, the ramifications are felt both for the reader and for the narrative.

“Give me your hand…”

Not only is this the title of the book, but when those words are uttered at almost the precise middle of the book, the fate of these two women is forever linked and there is no turning back. Readers will have long felt the dangers at play within the novel’s tension and Megan Abbott makes that moment both shocking and inevitable. Many writers would lack the finesse necessary to pull off such a major moment, but Abbott allows it to flow naturally from the characters she has crafted. The idea of putting the book aside from this point to the final conclusion will never be an option for fans of psychological suspense tales.

“The blood is the life…”

On the surface, Give Me Your Hand would seem to be a story about women, for women, and of course, by a woman; and yet, Megan Abbott has proven over and over that she is able to draw men under her spell. She never shies away from going to difficult or controversial places, but she does it with measured restraint and beautiful language that is free of judgment. Much can be learned about our society by looking at how these two women ended up in their situation. The key to community is empathy and Megan Abbott is gifted enough to lead readers there without getting didactic or pedantic along the way. The scientific setting of Give Me Your Hand is so on-point with current trends that it makes for a refreshing change of pace within the crime fiction genre. It is too Megan Abbott’s credit that she never attempts to make this feel revolutionary, because while it may seem like a new angle for fiction, it is a journey women have traveled for years in reality. The verisimilitude of every action will send shockwaves while also entertaining any reader who dares open the cover.

Give Me Your Hand is another in a long line of successes for Megan Abbott. Don’t miss this novel – it’s sure to be one of the most talked about books of the season.
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There is just so much good stuff in Give Me Your Hand, Megan Abbott's newest book. Women in STEM, the power and potential darkness in friendship between women, mental health, the issues around the lack of research into health problems that only affect women- it's a lot to pack into one story but Megan Abbot makes all of this into a completely mesmerizing pageturner. This story kept me guessing, and while it was an engrossing thriller, it managed to make really interesting observations about the topics it was handling. I'm a newer Megan Abbott reader, but I'm tempted to dive into the backlist I have yet to read to see if anything can top it- but I doubt it.
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