Cover Image: You Never Get It Back

You Never Get It Back

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Member Reviews

You Never Get It Back, while not a genre I normally read, was a gem.  I loved the way the short stories all fit together to give the reader a bigger picture.  The character development throughout the stories was good, and the conclusion was satisfying. I will be looking forward to more from this author.
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This is quite a short read and although the story is beautifully written, I fail to appreciate it fully.

This story follows a young woman from rural England, Kate, as she navigates different phases of her life in each chapter. In each chapter, she talks about moving to different places through her childhood, her twenties and her thirties as she works out what her role in life is. It’s funny how the places you move to will stick with you. The smell, the way it looks, the surroundings and where everything is placed. This made me look back on all the places I’ve moved into - my neighbourhoods, how different seasons change the surroundings, the views from my windows and the people I’ve met.

I loved the opening of the story, titled ‘Loss’ which is not about Kate but about a tailor fitting a man named Loss, whose job is to catalogue people's losses. The tailor wanted to forgo the second half of the payment in order to receive a list of what he lost - things he doesn’t remember, things that were lost, moments he missed - Would you want to look back on what you have lost?

Honestly, I feel quite detached from Kate’s character. I felt like her life just passes me by without me wanting to know more. Kate’s life seems like a blur to me. She is not a very compelling character and I fail to understand her intentions but yet there are some parts of her life that captivates me - being lost, not knowing what to expect from life or what she is entitled to expect and trying her best to find her place in the world.

Thank you Netgalley and University of Iowa Press for the arc.
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This is a beautifully written book of connected short stories, would recommend giving it a go, as you may feel differently about the character.
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A lovely, evocative collection of short stories revolving around the life of Kate Bishop, a young woman struggling to find her place in the world. Cara Blue Adams really brings her environments to life, whether it's rural Vermont, snow-covered Cambridge, or the desert of Arizona. Kate is an interesting narrator, as she's often aloof and detached, but you really want her to succeed as you follow the nonlinear path of her life through the stories. 

There is a story about a sick pet that was upsetting to read. Despite the difficulty getting through this brief story, it does give insight into Kate's mother, as it's told from her point of view.

I look forward to reading more of Cara Blue Adams' work, if this collection is any indication of her talent.
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For fans of literary fiction, You Never Get It Back might be a book that you’ll want to add to your TBR. Made up of short stories and tidbits about Kate’s life, this book explores the family dynamics, financial struggles, romantic exploration and career discovery of a young woman in her late 20s into early 30s. 

In this regard, I really enjoyed the story because in many instances I felt that I could relate to Kate on some level, even though many of her experiences differ so greatly from any in my life. I also liked that the book is broken up into shorter glimpses of Kate’s life, as opposed to one long, drawn out story, and loved the imagery of all the places she lives in and travels to. 

That being said…I kind of have mixed feelings. The book is very well written and interesting so I will give it that. There were just some moments where I felt confused about what was going on, who the story was talking about, and never really got to see a lot of Kate’s personality and what made her who she is as a person. The stories jump around a bit time wise, so I’m sure that contributed on some level.

Overall, I’d recommend this book, especially to fans of short stories (and short books) and books like Writers and Lovers. It’s available now so go check it out!
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I really enjoyed Adams's writing style, and I liked the content.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend this to every reader because it's different when it comes to fiction.  It's a collection of short stories, all about the same character.  They follow almost in a chronological manner, but chunks of her life are left out.  

What I really would have loved would be a full novel on the character.  She was interesting and dynamic.  I could see this being used for some college literature classes, but I don't think it's necessarily a go-to for comfy nighttime reading.
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'You Never Get It Back’ is a novel made in a vignette manner where the main character’s memories and reflections on different periods of her life make up a story of growing up and adulting. Following Kate from her college years till mid-thirties, Adams puts in episodes from the heroine’s childhood, connecting the character development to her household atmosphere, the decisions that determine Kate’s personality, and the losses she has to live through and with. Outlined by a metaphor in the prologue, the Loss and its profound influence on how people proceed with their inner and outer lives become the mise-en-scène for what is found when something is lost. The author brought to life a story of struggling with fitting in in 2000s America, choosing one’s challenging but true path, and committing to being one’s own best friend.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book. I'm not usually a short story person, but I absolutely loved this collection, I think because the stories were about the same character at different phases of her life. I appreciated that they were nonlinear, and they did such a brilliant job examining how a person goes through phases and changes over time.
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Edited review: I am not usually a fan of books of short stories but this one was pretty good. Initially, I wasn't very impressed with the themes but the writing was solid. At first, I liked the early parts better than the later chapters, except for the last, long story. Overall, a nice collection of stories about struggles women face when they start life economically disadvantaged and/or from families hurt by mental illness. Although I cannot really relate to many of these situations, I can appreciate the writing and handling of the situations addressed. I did like that the woman in the last story chose love.
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You Never Get It Back’s linked stories follow Kate as she navigates young adulthood. Between each story, there’s a jump in time of about a few months or years. Some of the peripheral characters you also get to see in more than one story. Recurring themes include her relationship with her mother, sister and boyfriends; her work, in a lab and as a writer and teacher; her friendships; her childhood; and, perhaps most importantly, a kind of aimlessness that seems to permeate her life.

Every story has a new setting. One of this collection’s strengths is its ability to immerse us in each small universe quickly and seamlessly. Having Kate as the linking thread helps, but there’s more to it than that—I’m not sure what it is. In any case, The Sea Latch, in particular, will stay with me I’m sure, as it reminded me of my trips to Florida with my parents as a kid (staying in cheap roadside motels, being close to the ocean, etc.). Reading this story was a comforting and nostalgic experience.

You Never Get It Back’s beauty will sneak up on you, quietly. To me, each new story felt stronger than the last, and by the end, I found myself wishing there was more.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys linked collections, and those who liked Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor or I Hold a Wolf By the Ears by Laura van den Berg.
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A novel of linked stories which come together to build a detailed and robust character study of Kate, the principal character and the unifying link between the stories.
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It's not exactly right to call this either a short story collection or a novel—it's somewhere between. All the stories are linked with the same main character (Kate) at different stages of her life, with some of the same side characters or plot lines recurring. I think I struggled to connect with Kate—like in a lot of literary fiction, she sometimes felt so passive but over-intellectual, more emotional and complicated in how she tried and fail to deny her most fundamental, sincere emotional difficulties. Even though this collection is entirely fictional, something in the tone strayed toward autofiction or carefully distanced creative nonfiction for me.

I think the first long story, the titular one, "You Never Get It Back," will stick with me most. The story ends viscerally with an on-page sexual assault scene that certainly sets the course for the rest of the collection. I have a friend who has repeatedly argued that on-page sexual assault scenes are never necessary, even when they're attempting to show the harm or horror from the survivor's perspective, and I think this collection swayed me significantly in her direction. The audience for a feminist literary collection published by a university is always rather niche, and it probably includes a disproportionate amount of already-feminist survivors, with their own traumas and triggers, who don't need persuasion or moralizing against sexual assault and who might face actual re-harm from a sudden and in-depth description of it. I kept reading this collection because I had an ARC that I wanted to finish before the official publication date, but if I had simply picked this up at a nearby library, I wonder if I would've DNFed here, out of a concern for what reading the rest of the collection would feel like.

I liked "Charity," but I was still reeling from "You Never Get It Back"—and I think I would've appreciated the class and family criticisms in this collection more if I wasn't doing so much emotional processing and self-soothing while reflecting on them. Other memorable stories include "Never Gotten, Never Had," "The Sea Latch," "Seeing Clear," and "The Most Common State of Matter." I choose the word "memorable" on purpose, since it feels more accurate to this collection than something like "best." 

I recommend checking the other content warnings before reading this—they're sometimes sharp. I'm going back on an indefinite hiatus from reading dark, feminist short stories after this. I need some air. 

[This book will be included in my December 2021 Reading Wrap-up YouTube video.]
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I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This collection is exceptionally written and has very well-developed characters.  I love this book.
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𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞, 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐬.

This collection of connected stories is a journey into Kate’s life, as she finds place and meaning whether in the lush countryside, mountains, city or the desert. In college, Kate is the ‘disadvantaged’ friend juggling her course load for a career as a research scientist. Just moving towards a future different from the life her mother lives, wishing to be something else, as so many young women do. The past, through pivotal moments in her life, feels far away but it never is. She spends much of her early years waiting for life to happen, and when she makes choices about leaving, she wonders what staying would have meant, could have changed, particularly in love relationships. How do we get from one place to another, so far away from where we began? Her sister Agnes and mother seem to live in their own world, one she can’t help but judge- having grown up without much money after her parents’ divorce, Kate can only worry the trouble she imagines her sister’s future will be based on the choices she makes. Choices that are similar to their own mother’s, a college drop out, married young, divorced, struggling to pay bills and raise her daughters.

Each story provides glimpses into her life and the places she lives, deserts, countryside lend just as much feeling as the people who move through her. The two stories that moved me most were Charity and Seeing Clear. Although much of the stories focus on relationships with men she has loved or failed to love enough, it is the revelations about her mother and father that made me understand Kate and her troubled sister Agnes more. In Charity, I got the feeling they are the children of the black sheep in her mother’s family. There is also the resentment of not having enough, the expectations of family who don’t seem to understand your struggles, or is it simply her mother has decided to think a certain way and that’s that? Yes, the burn of class division is often felt most within one’s own family. In Seeing Clear, the reader understands even more the weight of Kate’s sadness, what made her strive for college as a means of lifting her out of unhappiness. Those two stories, for me, were the heaviest. Her fears of marriage and many choices make sense. How she worries about her sister and thinks she knows best, maybe she does, maybe she doesn’t.

It’s a story of coming into oneself, because we are always coming of age, with every experience, trying to understand our lives, all the choices and each other. Of course there are struggles, so much goes awry, it is easy to mess up even when we’re trying to be good. This is quiet novel but, for me at least, easy to relate to and engaging.

Publication Date: December 15, 2021

University of Iowa Press
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The story of Kate is followed in connected short stories that present like episodes of a series different milestones in her life. We can easily see how Kate’s life and relationships evolve gradually in each story. 

It took a while for me to finish it since it can be complicated on the way with everything that happens to the character and the decisions she is taking. Maybe some more details to be provided about what happened to the different characters she met during each episode it would have helped for a faster read and more interest from my side.
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The one thing I liked about the book was the different locations, especially New Mexico. I couldn’t really immerse myself in the story, however. I just couldn’t identify with the characters and found myself skimming chapters, hoping to ignite interest. Alas, it didn’t happen.
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You Never Get It Back is by no means badly written but it does recount a story I have read before. This is far less memorable than Writers&Lovers and the many other books focusing on youngish women who are meandering through their twenties. The short-story structure reminded me of Frying Plantain but unlike Frying Plantain this novel lacks momentum. The storytelling is not engaging and the protagonist is a vague-non-person. The prose, story, structure, and themes are all far from memorable. Also, some descriptions struck me as lazy. At one point a woman is described as having "Italian skin"....Italian skin is not a skin tone. Olive skin, yeah. Not all Italians share the same skin-tone so I find this descriptor lazy and inaccurate.
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Thank you NetGalley and University of Iowa press for the eARC for an honest review.

I struggled a little reading this, but despite this, I still enjoyed the story. 

This is written/structured as a collection of short stories, which are linked. This story follows Kate, and her journey and of her life with her family and friends. We see her connections and lack thereof, with them, of which the lack thereof relationships made me a little sympathetic (depending on certain parts of the story). 

There are some parts of the book I enjoyed, and other parts of the book were the ones I struggled with. Despite all these, this is a beautifully written book.
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I had a tough time with this one. It was a pretty easy read. I liked certain quotes, but the biggest issue I had was the main character (Kate).
Her personality was very distant, estranged from most of the people she was close to in her life. Even as an outside observer, I feel like I never really got close to understanding who Kate was. 
It also frustrated me to no end that the character seemed to end up in relationships that she wasn't very invested in, and instead of leaving, she would just stay. She seemed like a sedentary character overall. I kept wanting to shout at her "if you don't love him/if you're not into it then LEAVE!" FIND SOMETHING/SOMEONE WORTH YOUR TIME. She never seemed sure of anything and that made me anxious and unsettled, almost unable to trust her.

I just didn't get a whole lot of emotions out of it but it was well written and interesting enough, with a semi unsatisfactory ending.  Even then, I didn't really feel like she had met her full potential or ended up where she would like to be.

"Don't worry. Life keeps giving you chances." 
"Chances to what?" I'd asked
"Chances to love things," he'd said. "Chances to become someone new"
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Thank you NetGalley and University of Iowa press for the chance to spend time in and with Cara Blue Adams thoughtfully crafted set of interconnected stories that flow into a short but complete novel.  I love writing that brings me into a journey, a sense of coming of age but also more coming into oneself and into self awareness.  I felt that the writing also reflected this sense of expansion of the writer themselves, a chance to see writing skills and joy for writing grow stronger and somehow both restrained and unrestrained in places (e..g, the short story metaphor, clarity and purpose and completion in a paragraph).  The elegance of the writing invited me into Kate's life in an intimate and personal way, a chance to learn about this character but also to learn of Ms. Adams as a powerful force in writing.  
I am so glad I had the chance to engage with this writing and the unique voice that Cara Blue Adams brings to readers.  I look forward to more work from this writer and appreciate the chance to support this work.

Where to find my review:
goodreads (reviews posted there closer to review date)
instagram (small review shared soon, then again closer to pub date) affiliate page (listed a recommended book)
I will share with Amazon, BN, and other outlets as requested
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