Cover Image: How It Works Out

How It Works Out

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Member Reviews

Myriam and Allison are just like any other sapphic couple…except their relationship is ever-changing and told through the lens of several different realities. One day they find a baby in an alley and raise it together. Next Myriam falls into a deep depression and the only cure is Allison’s flesh. Then maybe Myriam has a degradation kink and is the CEO of the company Allison works for. And what happens if they’ve fallen out of love and turn to running a marathon to save them?

With each each sapphic scenario Myriam and Allison peel back another layer in this unique exploration of queerness. From naive young love to falling out of it, they explore timeless questions through nuanced lenses. If you loved Everything Everywhere All At Once but wished it was gayer and in book form then How It Works Out is for you.

This book was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Though, in the best of ways I enjoyed the majority of the stories and the writing style is fantastic. I think the main draws are how layered the overall themes are and how widely varied the hypotheticals are in exploring Myriam and Allison’s relationship.

An interesting theme in each story is that of Myriam’s germaphobia and depression, which we get to see through both her own eyes and the perspective of Allison. Although displayed more prominently in stories such as “Love Bun” and “The Sequel”, her struggles are consistent throughout the book. Germaphobia is not an issue I would commonly associate with the body gore detailed and I think this lends itself to a unique sense of queer irony. How society pushes queer people into any box in an attempt to make them somewhat palatable for the dichotomies of the heternormative matrix. Yet here is Mariym, a cannibalistic germaphobe who is prone to bouts of depression cured only by her lover’s flesh.

Not to mention the overarching commentary on how co-dependent and all-consuming queer, specifically sapphic, love can be. Allison is seen frequently losing herself to Myriam’s either manic highs or depressive lows. Although she is initially understanding and almost has a compulsive “need to be needed” it does eventually start to wear on her. We see her grow increasingly complacent and dissatisfied as the stories go on and her perspective shifts to resent Myriam. The difference in Allison from “Love Bun” to “Love and the Dark” shows the mental toll being a people pleaser can take on how a person views themselves and their partner.

Metaphors aside this book is exceptional on a line level. It is a truly beautiful piece of prose, which can be hard to do with some of the more “taboo” subjects. Topics such as cannibalism or mental illness are often used for shock value and not much stock is put in the actual crafting of the scenario. This book is a fantastic example of how to incorporate these subjects thoughtfully. Of course, certain scenes left me feeling a little nauseous but it was purposeful and with care. There wasn’t eating flesh just for the sake of eating flesh, it was done in a way that, honestly, made me empathize with the cannibal.

All in all, if you are a lover of the stranger side of sapphic literature then this is the book for you. Perfect for fans of Carmen Maria Machado and Julia Armfield. This cluster f- of queer love, kink, and gore will have you unable to put the book down. However please make sure to check the trigger warnings as there are some situations not suitable for all readers. If you like wild queer shorts, unique metaphors, and unreliable narrators then this is the book for you. Happy reading!

Thank you to NetGalley and ABRAMS for sending this eARC for review consideration. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

CW: Abusive relationship, alcohol, amputation, animal abuse, anxiety, attempted r*pe, blood, bones, cannibalism, cheating, child abuse, child death, death, depression, emotional abuse, gore, homophobia, hospitalization, kidnapping, murder, PTSD, sexual assault, sexually explicit scenes, and terminal illness.

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okay, so this one is my bad - i went into this knowing not much of anything other than the fact that it's gay and "darkly comic". for some reason, my brain never computed the "hypothetical scenarios" part of the synopsis so i went into this engaged with the writing to be whipped into a new story.

so, let's get this out there for the people: this book is about a couple, myriam and allison. this book is different chapters thrusting these two characters into different stories and scenarios, some of which are cringe, some of which are kind of horrific, some of which will make you hate one or the other, some of which are completely absurd.

once i caught on to what was happening, i took very swiftly to the concept - though some scenarios really put me off (looking at you, that one story at the beginning where they're cannibalizing each other and their children wtf) - i do think that most of these little fictions were well-written, compelling, and if not "darkly comic" they were at the very least a masterclass in character study.

probably the most interesting story for me in this was the one where allison is a low-level employee at an air conditioning company in a world rapidly being impacted by global warming. one day, she gets completely overwhelmed by the negging of a customer who thinks his premium repair membership entitles him to having a repairman practically teleported to him. she yells, completely destroying ceo myriam for the company's politics, using the piles of money that it makes to lobby the government against green energy that may reverse the impacts of global warming/conceivably put the company out of business.

another great one for me is in the form of whiny, hypochondriac celesbian myriam, constantly thrusting a camera into beleaguered wife allison's face for the 'gram. we learn that allison has felt stuck in the relationship because of myriam's mental illness manifesting in a variety of ways, primarily her aversion to any food that's not prepackaged.

i really enjoyed how each jump in their little metaverse revealed something new about each character and something new about their dynamic with each other. a surprise because it was absolutely weird and not exactly what i was expecting, but a surprise when i made quick work of the rest of the book and realized i had a great time with this.

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i will always pick up queer stories and i will always share queer stories so that they find their people. and i will do just that for this book.

however, this was a WEIRD one. i think a foreword about the set up of this could be helpful in grasping the stories for some. i did thoroughly enjoy the writing and a few of the stories i simply couldn’t put down. but ….it’s weird. hahahaha thank you so much to netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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the highs were high and the lows were low for me on this one. I loved the description of this book, so that always makes expectations super high. I think that this is one of those books that may have been better off being marketed as an interconnected short story collection (which it is) versus a novel (which it is not), but I understand the choice to go with novel from a marketing perspective.

I liked that this book wasn't afraid to go weird and dark, and some of the stories were real standouts to me. I personally loved the CEO/climate activist one the most, and I liked that it was a longer chapter. Some of the stories were gross and dark in a way that felt a bit try-hard and mean-spirited. The ending story was incomprehensible to me.

So yeah, highs and lows! Ultimately, I will always suggest a queer book to my pals in case it finds its readers, and I believe this book will find its readers, but I wouldn't necessarily pick it up again.

3.5 stars rounded up

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definitely a bit hard to follow. i think it requires a re=read or two to really grasp it. so many different alternate realities for these two. humorous and quirky. not sure it will be for everyone, but those who get it will GET IT.

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How It Works Out is a unique exploration of a relationship and expressions of love. The stories made my jaw drop in horror, excitement, and fascination. I really enjoyed how the couple's complex feelings for each other are manifested in different strange scenarios. After reading the last chapter I immediately felt like I needed to reread the entire thing to truly appreciate it.

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How It Works Out is truly unlike any other book I’ve read before - it was polarizing, refreshing, and I see myself easily picking this back up as a reread in 2024!

Each chapter is a different (but somehow they all feel cohesive and interconnected) alternate reality in which we’re introduced to Myriam and Allison. Sometimes they’re human, sometimes they’re not, sometimes they’re in love, and sometimes they’re doing something that’s shaped like love but feels like torture. It was so interesting learning about the little quirks and details of these two characters as they transcend their first reality and their personalities of the previous chapter. It was.. weird, to say the least. I think Chapter 2 is probably the most shocking and visceral (CW cannibalism) and once you’re sucked into the book, you’ll be confused but you won’t want to put it down. I reread the last chapter TWICE at like 3 in the morning and I still feel like I didn’t want this book to end. I didn’t fall in love with the characters but I didn’t want to say goodbye to them, either.

I don’t think I grasped everything this book has to offer my first time reading this, which is why I see this as an easy reread. You see these characters’ essence morph into everything and nothing and anything in this debut novel, and I’ll be looking forward to whatever Lacroix releases next. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for my honest opinion!

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This was funny, queer (in every sense of the word), and oddly comforting. There's a very specific way women love other women and Lacroix really captures that here perfectly without being heavy-handed or dramatic; she finds the truth in the humor, tension, desire, frustration, and all the other small moments that make up a relationship.

I don't think everyone will "get" this book, particularly those who aren't gay as hell. I am, so it appealed immediately and really delivered. The Tegan and Sara inclusion? Hilarious. The story about the dog and the mantis? Ridiculously bizarre and yet shockingly... relatable? I could go on and on here, but there was something really special here. I haven't read anything like it before, so every page was the best surprise.

This was everything I wanted it to be without knowing what I wanted it to be at all when I started. Fantastic debut; if this is a sign of what the author has in her, I'll read everything she ever releases.

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I was very bummed to say that I did not like this as much as I thought I would. I was thrilled to read it as soon as I read the premise - maybe my expectations were too high. also the cover is dreamy.

it's a creative and cute little queer concept, but the execution just felt a little meh for me. something about it was just a bit juvenile and undercooked. even when I was interested in where one of the stories was going, I found that I was never really fully enthralled. I'm sure a lot of people will appreciate this more than me - at least I hope so!

thank you netgalley for the arc!

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I loved the premise of this on paper, but the execution was just not for me. The writing style was too surface level, and the humour didn't work for me. I especially struggled with the writing as it felt very sequential to me: we did this, then this happened, then we did this, then this happened. This kind of tone never works for me, and it didn't for me in this case. A premise like this novel's really depends on how it's executed, and unfortunately the execution was not to my taste in this case.

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