You Never Get It Back

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Pub Date 15 Dec 2021 | Archive Date 15 Dec 2021
University of Iowa Press, University Of Iowa Press

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The linked stories in Cara Blue Adams’s precise and observant collection offer elegantly constructed glimpses of the life of Kate, a young woman from rural New England, moving between her childhood in the countryside of Vermont and her twenties and thirties in the northeast, southwest, and South in pursuit of a vocation, first as a research scientist and later as a writer. Place is a palpable presence: Boston in winter, Maine in summer, Virginia’s lush hillsides, the open New Mexico sky. Along the way, we meet Kate’s difficult bohemian mother and younger sister, her privileged college roommate, and the various men Kate dates as she struggles to define what she wants from the world on her own terms.

Wryly funny and shot through with surprising flashes of anger, these smart, dreamy, searching stories show us a young woman grappling with social class, gender, ambition, violence, and the distance between longing and having.

The linked stories in Cara Blue Adams’s precise and observant collection offer elegantly constructed glimpses of the life of Kate, a young woman from rural New England, moving between her childhood...

Advance Praise

“The structural originality and expansive sweep of stories in You Never Get It Back reveal a writer of impressive insight and technical virtuosity. The depth and urgency of these stories brought to mind Alice Munro’s great collection Runaway. These stories crackle with restless vitality as women come up against the constraints of their circumstances and what it means to be in the world. Cara Blue Adams has written a modern classic of a collection, as effortless in its idiom as it is fearless in its consideration of contemporary life. These stories left me breathless.”—Brandon Taylor, author, Filthy Animals (John Simmons Short Fiction Award judge)

“Breathtakingly poised and possessed of a daring, interrogative delicacy, Cara Blue Adams’s stories are portholes into the inner lives of characters built with such depth of feeling that you feel you could walk around inside them for hours. Saturated with longing, loss, and brilliant plumes of joy, this is the kind of book you hold close to your heart and carry with you for years to come.”—Alexandra Kleeman, author, You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine

“These marvelous linked stories follow Kate as she navigates the turbulent waters of early adulthood, friendship, and romance. Cara Blue Adams probes the depths of the heart with sensitivity and incisiveness. Whip smart and witty, surefooted and pitch-perfect, You Never Get It Back is a terrific debut!”—Kirstin Valdez Quade, author, The Five Wounds

“Cara Blue Adams writes with immense sensitivity and precision, transforming seemingly ordinary moments into radiant insights as she charts Kate’s journey through landscapes and relationships, solitude and connection, bliss and grief. As she moves through time, Kate begins to understand—as do we—that the questions might matter even more than the answers. You Never Get It Back is a stunning debut, marking the arrival of an original and thrilling new voice.”—Laura van den Berg, author, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

“The structural originality and expansive sweep of stories in You Never Get It Back reveal a writer of impressive insight and technical virtuosity. The depth and urgency of these stories brought to...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9781609388133
PRICE $16.00 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

YOU NEVER GET IT BACK is highly recommended for fans of literary fiction. I think of this linked collection almost like a cross between Elizabeth Strout and Otessa Mosghfegh. We have the angst and ennui of Mosghfegh with the precise, lovely writing of Strout. I enjoyed Kate's journey, although at times she can be frustrating in her vague aimlessness. The linked story format works well here.

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This is a beautifully written book of connected short stories. Adams is a true wordsmith; she is able to paint a complete picture for the reader without simply gushing out words. It feels as if each and every word is carefully and thoughtfully chosen and it creates a wonderful reading experience as the reader is able to enter Kate's world as almost more than an observer.
I enjoyed the sense of place that each story evoked and seeing how Kate and her family evolve throughout the book. I did not want it to end and as we all know, that's a very good sign. This is a book that can be reread and no doubt the reader will discover new insights each time. I am not a fan of short stories, yet I loved this book.

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I absolutely loved this gorgeous collection of linked short fiction. This book is a journey, in the best sense of the word. At first, I found the protagonist, Kate, exasperating in her passivity. She just went along with all the strong personalities in her life, never advocating for herself or doing what she wanted. But then as things unfolded and we got to know her, I understood, much in the way you understand a person in real life as you see them in more situations and you learn about the people who shaped their life. It was wonderfully done - totally worth sticking with it until the end.

My favorite part of this book is the writing. The sentences, the observations they present, the way the scenes unfold. It really is beautiful, and the imagery will stay with me for a long time. I look forward to more books from Cara Blue Adams.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.

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I am a lover of short stories and their writers. I consider Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore two of the best fiction writers because of their ability to nail a short story. Cara Blue Adams's debut collection, YOU NEVER GET IT BACK, is a wonderful collection of interlinked short stories, revolving around the character of Kate from her childhood through to adulthood. Varying in length, Adams has the ability to create complete worlds, immediately drawing you in to Kate and her relationships with family and friends. These stories are detailed, expertly crafted, and there is not one dud in the collection.

Thanks to University of Iowa Press, NetGalley, and Cara Blue Adams for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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You Never Get It Back is a beautiful collection by author Cara Blue Adams that marks her entry into the realm of American literary fiction elite. Following the life of the small town New Englander Kate as she travels from college to the professional world and from relationships with difficult roommates to various men, You Never Get it Back is a tableaux of a life well lived and a character with a tremendous passion for living.

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The women in this beautiful series of inter-connected yet stand-alone short stories run the gamut from neighbors, sisters, friends from work, friends from school, and to friends from elsewhere. Central character Kate is involved with Eli in most stories, sometimes the love interest is named Javi, but generally the couple's viability is in question; in some stories she's a writer and in others a lab scientist, and throughout many the effects of class background are illustrated. One short story titled "Metaphor" is a single paragraph in length, and perfection. At any length Cara Blue Adams' writing is an absolute treat.

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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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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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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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