Give Me Your Hand

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

A fun thriller that crosses genres (YA, science, thriller, mystery, horror). Told in a "then" and "now" format, Give Me Your Hand tells the story of two high school friends, Kit and Diane, and the past secrets they share.  It's an interesting look at female friendships, rivalries, and the challenges faced in academia. Abbott captures the mood of how far one would go for a friend and how far friendships can be tested.
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I received an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book had me on the edge of my seat the whole time! It was definitely a book that kept you thinking! I would definitely recommend this book to fellow readers. Thank you!
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A psychopath, a patsy and an ethically challenged scientist meet in an absurd plot.  Kit Owens and Diane Fleming were friends for a short time when they were in high school.  Diane shared a terrible secret with Kit and it ended the friendship. It was pathetically easy to figure out what this secret was. 

Now 12 years later, Kit is a post doc and Diane reappears in her life. Kit wants to be assigned to a new research project led by Dr. Lena Severin. They will be studying premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is sort of PMS on hyperdrive and causes rage, among other symptoms.  PMDD may or may not exist. I have no idea.  I don't know the author's reasons for selecting this as the research topic, but if the author had been a man, my diagnosis would have been misogyny, because it was irrelevant to the plot. But I don't care for even a suggestion that women have to study women's issues or that women are all nuts, but they have an excuse. 

I've read too many thrillers and I need some basic level of believability for a book to get out of the mediocre range.  If I read only a couple of books a year I would probably be a lot easier to please. I admit that the lab details seemed realistic, as did the competitiveness of the post docs, but nothing else did. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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What a terrific story! Abbott's writing is top notch.  Her storytelling is beyond excellent. She sucks you in straightaway and will not let you go - the characters and their story - WOW!!  I absolutely LOVED this book! It was unputdownable and I loved every minute I spent with it. Unforgettable characters and brilliant writing - what more could I want?
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I am still reeling from the shock of how much I loved this book. I never expect very much from thrillers, but Give Me Your Hand exceeded all my expectations. It is a tense, disquieting look at madness and at the complexities of female friendships that ultimately reads like a Greek tragedy. Though there’s few allusions to the Greeks, only to Shakespeare and Marie Curie, the story has an ancient, timeless feel to it, with the sinister undertones exacerbated by the discussions of PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or extreme PMS).

Kit Owens lives in a working-class, likely post-industrial town with her single mother. She has few ambitions besides attending the local community college, but the arrival of the strange and alluring Diane Fleming invigorates her. The two girls become friends and study partners, the friendly competition between them encouraging them to be better and better as they compete for the same scholarship. Then, Diane reveals a secret to Kit that tears their friendship apart. Years later, Kit is poised to take part in a groundbreaking research study about PMDD, when Diane Fleming reappears to compete for the same coveted position. And then everything spirals out of control very quickly.

Though I used the words “compete” and “competition” a lot, this is not the story you think it’s going to be. This isn’t about nasty competition and jealousy between two women; it’s so much deeper than that. Kit and Diane have such a fascinating, complex relationship. Even before Diane reveals her secret, she and Kit are friends, but there is a distance, a tension, between them. After the secret and decades later, the relationship is fractured, but there is still a compulsion between the two of them. They are drawn to one another whether they want to be or not. There is an undeniable chemistry between them – not romantic, but deeper than that, a kind of unspoken understanding almost, something that keeps them tightly knotted together. They are simultaneously rivals and allies, friends and enemies, and it makes for an incredibly compelling dynamic.

There is an undercurrent of something sinister running deep throughout this book. The question of “What is wrong with Diane?” is never explicitly addressed, but that makes her all the more fascinating, all the more ominous and mystifying. Kit as well never seems entirely stable, particularly in the “present” scenes, when she seems to be retreating further and further into her mind and her paranoia and always seems minutes away from falling completely apart. That both of these characters’ instability is surrounded by discussions of PMDD somehow makes everything seems so much more foreboding. There is something about the way Abbott discusses PMDD that makes it seems absolutely terrifying, as though it’s a demon lying in wait in the darkness, waiting to emerge and possess you.

Which brings me to my next point: the writing. Oh my God, the writing. Abbott’s use of description and metaphor is so raw and visceral. There is something about this writing that gets under your skin, burrows deep and makes a home for itself. It’s evocative in an almost heady way. There were so many lines I had to go back and reread because they were so powerful and so disturbing; there is one scene where she compares a character’s red hands to the “husks of a pomegranate” and it is such a vivid, disquieting image that I had to stop to take it all in. There are so many instances like this of images and metaphors that will make your skin crawl and make you vaguely uncomfortable and I fucking loved it. This is a book I can easily go back and re-read just to drink in the writing all over again.

Similarly disquieting is the undertone of casual misogyny present throughout the book. Kit and Diane work in a research lab with mainly men, in a male-dominated field. Though at first they seem like decent enough guys, Abbott slowly peels back their layers and reveals the ugly mottled misogyny residing under their skin. But she does it subtly, deftly, almost casually. That makes it all the more disturbing. It’s one thing when you know someone hates women because of how obvious they are about it, but it’s another when you spend years working with someone and thinking of them as a kind of comrade only to discover what they really think of you. I experienced something like this myself once, in high school, and it’s enough to tip you over the edge. What a clever way to allude to madness in a book that circles it but never quite catches it.

I’m giving this a 4.5, technically, and that is because of my one qualm with the ending, which I thought was rushed. The entire book is a slow-burn rising to an enormous crescendo, but the ending feels somewhat hurried. In particular, the ten-year time jump felt pointless to me. I usually love time jumps, but here it didn’t fit, and I think there were plenty of ways to convey the same information in a way that didn’t feel as rushed and disjointed.

But that is a minor complaint, and, clearly, I loved this book. I loved all the female characters, I loved the complexities of female relationships, I loved the bond between Kit and her mother. I loved how dark the book was, how menacing. Again I have to emphasize how much this book reminded me of a Greek tragedy. There is something ancient and timeless the themes brought up here. And like a Greek tragedy, the reader senses the danger coming, and in the end you have to wonder if it was all somehow fated to happen.
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I typically enjoy thrillers, but this one was a little too much for me.  I could see it making a great movie.
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The constantly shifting empathies about two competitive women who are like sides of one another's baser instincts and the persuasive insight into what motivates women to kill easily make this my favourite Abbott novel since DARE ME.
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I really enjoyed the initial friendship between the two main characters. I liked how they challenged one another and made each other try to be a little bit better. I liked the relationship between Kit and her mom. I liked how driven Kit was to change her circumstances and achieve her long term goals. I liked how one of the characters KNEW there was something wrong and she couldn't get the help she desperately sought because I think this (sadly) happens more times than not. As a fan of foreshadowing, I liked the little thread at the end of the story that tied the story up, was completely unnecessary, but tied the story up brilliantly.

But . . . I just didn't like many of the characters. They seemed to work as an ensemble, but they fell short individually. Some of the actions (one in particular which, if you have read the book, you know which one I am talking about) seemed completely implausible and utterly out of character. It was definitely an eye-rolling moment for me and I think that was the point the book started to go off the rails.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview this ARC of Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott.

Kit, a hopeful scientist looking to enter a prestigious program reconnects with an old friend.  But unlike the usual sensations of glee and nostalgia, Kit feels fear and dread.  Kit knows something about Diane that she can't un-know, and she has been working hard to distance herself from her friend, and her friend's secret.  But circumstances keep bringing them together, entangling Kit in Diane's web.

Megan Abbott is like that acquaintance you have in your life that you deem perfectly nice, but just can't click with.  This is the second book I have read of hers and for some reason, they just have a weird flavor that I can't put my finger on, but it's not my favorite.
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It appears I read this one wrong. It also appears that I spend a goodly chunk of time using my review space saying “if you like Megan Abbott, then you’ll like this” on books that I actually liked more than most Abbott books – excluding, of course, The End of Everything because that thing was the bomb diggity. Now please don’t get it twisted and think I won’t IMMEDIATELY cut wait patiently in line for her next release because I absolutely will. There was just something missing here for me. While I was never once tempted to put Give Me Your Hand to the side and pick up a different selection, it wasn’t nearly as page turny (new word) for me as some of her other stories. Even when I’ve had fair-to-middlin’ reactions to Abbott’s books, I’ve appreciated how dense the story and how few words she takes to get it done. This one definitely had some slow spots and the females weren’t nearly as awesomely cringe-inducing as in some of her other stuff either despite a pretty juicy storyline . . . . . 

“By telling me you trapped me,” I say through my teeth. “By telling you,” she whispers, rain still glistening on her, “I was free.” 

Maybe I’ve just been desensitized???? *shrug*

On the other hand, it was nice to know there’s a reason behind the times when I get murderous whilst on my menses : ) 

2.5 Stars, but rounding up because I still drank that Kool-Aid, yo. Now go read Diane S. or Dan or Char’s reviews to see that you actually do want to read this and not listen to anything I have to say.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
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4 stars--I really liked it, even though I was very tense the entire time I was reading!

Megan Abbott is so brutal. She's one of my always-read authors, and I liked this one quite a bit, though it's not an easy read. This time, she tackles science and sociopathy and sexism and hormones--along with her usual examination of women's friendships--and the resulting plot is bloody and violent. I was riveted.

Abbott has this knack of showing us the darkest places of women's hearts--and never flinching away from what she finds. Her writing is good, characters are stunning, and I devoured this quickly because I had to know what would happen.

I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!
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I loved Give Me Your Hand, but then again I love all Megan Abbott books. She writes thrillers in a way that I haven't experienced before, her slow burn is amazing. This book hooked me right from the start and I finished in two days. I would recommend it to anyone!
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Megan Abbott at her best!  I loved this noirish, suspenseful tale of twisted female friendship (?), workplace dynamics and academic striving.  It came together wonderfully at the end.
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This book had a very interesting premise which got lost along the way in one of the most convoluted stories I have ever read.  The ending ,instead of clearing anything up, did just the opposite.  I really think it was a story of schizophrenia- dual personality in the guise of hormonal problems.
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Much suspension of belief required here. This is a dark one. 

Free copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Megan Abbott is a great storyteller, and an even better writer. GIVE ME YOUR HAND is another example of that truth. Kit Owens and Diane Fleming have a tenuous and complex relationship, which began when they were briefly school friends. When a secret was shared. A secret that changed the trajectory of each of their lives. Told back and forth in time, between THEN and NOW, the story reveals the dark angst of both women, first as high school girls and later when they are unexpectedly reunited as brilliant and accomplished post docs in the dog-eat-dog world of biomedical research. Abbott is a master at tapping into the dark psyche of her characters and revealing the deep motivations for their actions. GIVE ME YOUR HAND in her latest, and maybe best, example. The twists and turns in this tale collide in an ending that is both shocking and inevitable. Once you climb on this train, one that you know somewhere, somehow will jump the tracks, you can’t put it down. 


DP Lyle, award-winning author of the Jake Longly thriller series
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3.5 stars.

"I guess I always knew, in some subterranean way, Diane and I would end up back together. We are bound, ankle to ankle, a monstrous three-legged race. Accidental accomplices. Wary conspirators. Or Siamese twins, fused in some hidden place. It's that powerful, this thing we share. A murky history, its narrative near impenetrable. We keep telling it to ourselves, noting its twists and turns, trying to make sense of it. And hiding it from everyone else."

When Kit and Diane became friends in high school, for the first time, Kit recognized her intelligence as an asset. Diane encouraged her to believe in herself, believe she could accomplish anything she wanted, that she wasn't destined to attend college in her hometown and never amount to much. The two grew inseparable, challenging and pushing each other, both hoping to achieve a prestigious internship. Kit always felt as if she were one step behind Diane, but that didn't stop her from wanting, from trying.

One night, Diane told Kit a secret she had kept hidden from everyone. This wasn't just any secret—this was the biggest secret Diane had, about the worst thing she had ever done. Kit didn't understand why Diane had to tell her this, and it completely destroyed their friendship. Any time she looked at Diane, Kit felt the weight of the knowledge she had about her. She knew she should tell someone, but she can't bring herself to, but she can't escape knowing, either. Still, she hopes that once they graduate high school she'll never see Diane again.

Years later, Kit is where she wants to be—working in a lab under one of the most formidable female scientists, who is just about to receive major grant funding for a project looking at a once-taboo, misunderstood, "female issue." Kit is hoping to be one of the people chosen to work on this grant. And then, unexpectedly, Diane arrives, brought into the lab specifically by Kit's boss.

"Everyone always likes the best, wants the most, admires deeply, the girl who's just out of reach. The girl no one can touch, really. We don't know why we're drawn, but it's unstoppable."

Without warning, Kit faces the same feelings about Diane she had hidden away after high school. All she wants to do is work, but suddenly she's competing with Diane again, trying not to think of what Diane told her all those years ago. But in a moment of weakness, Kit makes a mistake she can't take back, and suddenly Diane is there, protecting Kit, keeping her secret.

Can Kit keep both of their secrets? Is Diane a threat to her, professionally and/or personally? How far will things have to go before Kit feels secure in her work, and her life—or will that ever be a possibility?

Megan Abbott has created some of the best "mean girl" characters in fiction over the last few years, in novels like The Fever, Dare Me, and You Will Know Me. In Give Me Your Hand it's more "crazy girl" than "mean girl," but her work is equally memorable—and unsettling.

This is an interesting story of female intelligence, friendship, rivalry, and relationships, and the challenges women in academia (particularly in science) face to get ahead. It's also a look at how far we would go for a friend, if there's a secret that we'd consider too big to keep for someone, even if we care about them.

Even though this book is fairly predictable, I couldn't stop reading it. I needed to see how far Abbott would take her plot and her characters, hoping she wouldn't go completely off the rails. Give Me Your Hand isn't the strongest of Abbott's books I've read—I think that goes to Dare Me—but it's still entertaining, and it will be difficult to get out of your mind.

NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!
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As always, Megan Abbott has written about complex women doing complicated things. Very loosely based on a true crime, Give Me Your Hand follows the friendship of two type-A scientists as it breaks down due to a shared, terrible secret, then re-connects on the job many years later. Along the way, she explores the lives of women working in an arena dominated by men, and accepting the layers of ambivalence, envy and admiration within friendship between women, and the messy process of supporting and helping other women.
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There are many reviews that have outlined the plot of this book. Therefore, I will not repeat what has already been said.  But, what I will say is that I found Megan Abbott to be a remarkable writer.  She is thoughtful, introspective, descriptive and very much a wordsmith.  

However, I also found the feeling of the book to be one of frustration and prevailing doom.  The characters are focused and extremely intelligent but they lack a sense of humility and maybe even humanity.  Their entire life (even those with a family) are centered on their work and gaining a coveted research position.  I understand the need to achieve, but it’s still jarring to read about a group of people who are willing to sacrifice so much for that promotion. Some of them are using work to avoid the real world while others are trying to forget childhood memories and people who hurt them or left them. All in all, I found all the characters very sad.

The plot itself reminded me of high school.  Everyone has endured that growing up period. But, unlike the characters in this book, most of us move on and leave that part of our life behind us.  Admittedly, the teenage memories in this book are a lot more serious.  Nevertheless, the way they are dealt with is more like a teenager and less like a true adult. 

As a result, I found it difficult to empathize with the characters and I simply looked forward to some sort of conclusion.  But, because of Ms Abbott’s beautiful writing, I will give her latest book 3 stars.

Many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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For some reason the middle of this book dragged for me. I was interested in the characters and knew some of the things that were doing to happen. Foreshadowing was done perhaps  too obviously. I would still recommend because the story is unique and leaves you wondering about nature vs nurture.
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