Women and Children First

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Pub Date May 07 2024 | Archive Date May 14 2024
Zando | SJP Lit

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Nashquitten, MA, is a decaying coastal enclave that not even tourist season can revive, full of locals who have run the town’s industries for generations. When a young woman dies at a house party, the circumstances around her death suspiciously unclear, the tight-knit community is shaken. As a mother grieves her daughter, a teacher her student, a best friend her confidante, the events around the tragedy become a lightning rod: blame is cast, secrets are buried deeper. Some are left to pick up the pieces, while others turn their backs, and all the while, a truth about that dreadful night begins to emerge.

Told through the eyes of ten local women, Grabowski’s Women and Children First is an exquisite portrait of grief and a powerful reminder of life’s interconnectedness. Touching on womanhood, class, and sexuality, ambition, disappointment, and tragedy, this novel is a stunning rendering of love and loss, and a bracing lesson from a phenomenal new literary talent that no one walks this earth alone.

Nashquitten, MA, is a decaying coastal enclave that not even tourist season can revive, full of locals who have run the town’s industries for generations. When a young woman dies at a house party...

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Featured Reviews

This book recounts the events of a young girl's death but does so through the perspective of multiple women living in the same insular, small coastal town. I thought it was so brilliantly done! I was equally interested in each woman and thought that the way she tied all of them together and connected them to the main plot was genius. I especially loved when the author told two different versions of the same event from the perspective of two women. Some of the topics covered were incredibly dark but the author expertly placed them in such a vivid and realistic world that it didn't feel forced or shoehorned into the story.

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This is now in my top favorites! It was so beautifully written and I absolutely loved the different POV. I will be recommending this to everyone!! Thank you so much for the opportunity!!!

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A gorgeously written, almost hypnotic telling of the impacts that the death of a teenager at a house party has on 10 of the female residents of a small town in Massachusetts.

The story moves back and forward in time, with each chapter voiced by a different female character impacted by the death - schoolmates, teenagers, teachers, confidants, mothers. Blame is directed, secrets hide and emerge, unexpected relationships form.

A stunning read from Alina Grabowski. Thanks to Net Galley and Zando Projects for the ARC.

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Women and Children First by Alina Grabowski had a grip on me from the very beginning. Nashquitten Massachusetts (but could really be in small town in America), is seemingly plagued by the untimely deaths of teens and young adults.

When yet another death of a teen happens at a house party, the town is shell-shocked. Women and Children First is written in the point of view of 10 different women, ranging in age from high school to middle aged adult. Each person recounts the short life of this teenage girl in the way they each remember her, reminding us that life is fluid and that even in the wake of a tragedy we still have our own demons and consequences that we must face.

Alina wrote each character so effectively that it was impossible not feel connected them and develop a soft spot for each of them, if other characters weren't so fond of them. She not only writes about the untimely death of a young person, she touches on other ugly subjects that as parents we want nothing more than to hide our children from.

I couldn't put this book down. It answered questions I didn't know I had and left me without answers to others, leaving me to interpret my own answers.

I can definitely see this book being an instant hit!

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Ten women in a small town tell the story of a teenage girl who died at a party. Ten voices, all different points of view and life experiences, impacted by the tragedy. Excellent debut novel that touches on many themes.

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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A young woman dies at an authorized house party and the aftermath of her death leaves a town shell-shocked. The story is told from the viewpoints of ten different women, all of whom have different perspectives and connections to the girl.

It's hard not to like any of the characters. They are all flawed and very real.

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"Women and Children First" by Alina Grabowski is a hauntingly beautiful portrayal of grief and interconnectedness set against the backdrop of Nashquitten, a decaying coastal town with a rich history. In this gripping novel, a tragic event shakes the tight-knit community to its core, unraveling the lives of its residents and exposing the deep-seated secrets they harbor.

The story unfolds after a young woman's death at a house party, shrouded in suspicious circumstances that leave the community in shock and turmoil. Grabowski skillfully weaves together the perspectives of ten local women, each with their unique connection to the deceased. As a mother mourns her daughter, a teacher grieves her student, and a best friend grapples with the loss of her confidante, the reader is drawn into a web of emotions, making it impossible not to empathize with the characters' pain.

One of the novel's greatest strengths is its exploration of womanhood, class, and sexuality. Grabowski delves deep into the lives of her female characters, exposing their vulnerabilities, ambitions, disappointments, and desires. Through their experiences, the author sheds light on the complexities of being a woman in a small, close-knit community where societal expectations and judgments loom large.

The writing in "Women and Children First" is nothing short of exquisite. Grabowski's prose is evocative and lyrical, painting a vivid picture of Nashquitten and its residents. The coastal town comes to life on the pages, and readers can almost feel the salt in the air and hear the crashing waves. This atmospheric quality adds depth to the narrative, making the setting feel like a character in its own right.

At its heart, this novel is a poignant exploration of love and loss. It reminds us that even in our darkest moments, we are not alone, and our lives are intricately connected to those around us. The characters' struggles and journeys are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of community.

Alina Grabowski's debut novel is a remarkable achievement, showcasing her as a phenomenal new literary talent. "Women and Children First" is a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant work that will stay with readers long after they turn the final page. It serves as a powerful reminder that, in the face of tragedy and heartache, we find strength in our bonds with one another. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking a compelling and beautifully crafted story that explores the profound depths of the human experience. Grabowski has delivered a poignant and unforgettable tale that lingers in the heart and mind.

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You know you're in for a treat when you get ten POVs in one story! And what an emotional ride this was. So tightly woven and intricately narrated by the complicated woman of this small town. I also loved the mystery of the suspicious death of one of their own linking all of the POVs. And if I can have a book with just Mona as the MC, that'd be great! An amazing debut by Alina Grabowski.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for sending me an advanced copy.

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The alternating points-of-view make this an interesting read. So many women will be able to relate to the characters and the lives they are living. Good character and plot development.

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I very much enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written story. Alina has such a unique and enchanting way of writing, it was hard to put down!
The way that the book flowed between characters was done very well and the plot itself was intriguing, kept me hooked, and wanting to continue reading late into the night.
At the end I definitely found myself hoping for it not to be over, and feeling sad when it ended. I felt myself forming a deep connection to the woman in this story. That surprised me, but I am thankful for it as it made reading it so much more meaningful!

Thank you to the author & publisher for this beautiful arc in exchange for an honest review!

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This was really like 4.25, probably, but I'm rounding up anyway because it was just so beautifully written and so utterly captivating.

Literary fiction (told in discrete chapters, connected but each adopting a different POV) with some elements of mystery, but mostly ruminations on grief and coming-of-age and small-community life in the wake of tragedy. The narrative voices felt distinct (impressive with so many POVs!) and the world was deeply real and compelling; I grew up in a different New England state, but the setting still felt really familiar to me, like a place I recognized.

My single qualm was that each of the chapters felt like it cut off at a moment of major emotional crescendo, which is effective sometimes; but I'd have liked to see a little more variety in structure! Still, very much recommended, and I really look forward to seeing this one out in the world.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Zando Projects/SJP Lit for the e-ARC!

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I really enjoyed this intricate novel. At first it read like multiple short stories since each character's chapter was so individual, and it was very satisfying to identify previous foreshadowing as connections among the teens and adults featured came to light.
Alina Grabowski's prose is simply stunning. I was totally drawn into each character's reality and individual vantage point of the tragedy that strikes their small town. An excellent debut!!

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This is one of those books that is on the "literary" side of mystery and I'm always intrigued by how they are marketed and sell. I was interested in reading about a coastal town that struggled to get tourists. I live in a city with a bay and it's interesting how there are neighborhoods that are right on the water yet are really struggling and vacant so that seemed very real to me. I think the default is to think of these places as thriving but that's not always true.

I liked the multiple perspectives but I felt like there could have maybe been a couple fewer. I didn't feel like I got to know everyone before moving on the next person and that limited how much I really felt connected to the story.

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Multiple points of view about the death of a young woman in the town where all the characters reside. Very good writing and an interesting way of storytelling. Four stars. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Multiple points of view about the death of a young woman in the town where all the characters reside. Very good writing and an interesting way of storytelling. Four stars. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Alina Grabowski's intricate debut novel, “Women and Children First'' is a sophisticated and nuanced treatment of the challenges facing families trying to find their way in the rough passageways of 21st Century America.

Life is not easy in a hardscrabble Massachusetts coastal beach town. Everyone knows everyone’s business, of course, and inter-mingling is not always kept on the social and psychological level. It’s the women and girls who do all the heavy lifting (as always). The adults are “faking it until they make it” as parents, educators, and counselors. The teens and pre-teens are forced to grow up fast, with heartwarming resiliency and heartbreaking tragedy the inevitable outcomes. Trust is hard to come by.

While reading, I felt that I should be paying closer attention to details in order to pick up foreshadowing clues about what may have happened with Lucy; “Women and Children First” is a mystery, after all. But I don't because I'm mesmerized by the sentences, especially amused by the clever and (LOL) witty dialog. It’s that well-written. The chapter structure with multiple narrative points-of-view required me to keep a list of characters that evolved into a map of inter-relationships.

I look forward to seeing how this book is marketed (and shelved in school and public libraries). Grabowski has written a mystery that is literary fiction at its core. Well done!

Thanks to SJP Lit and NetGalley for the eARC.

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In a dying, small coastal town in Massachusetts, a young woman dies under mysterious circumstances. For some in the town, the death shakes their world and changes their lives forever. For others, its effects are more remote but nonetheless significant. As some in the town seek answers to what really happened that night, others are determined to keep the truth hidden at all costs. Through the eyes of 10 different women in the town, the author shows many different perspectives of the event and its impacts, all while reflecting on the challenges of modern life and the nature of connection.

This is a perceptive and well-written novel. With strong and complex characters, it explores interesting themes around grief, ambition and frustration, and friendship and family.

Highly recommended!

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Women and Children First by Alina Grabowski is a beautifully written story set in a small Massachusetts town. It involves the lives of mothers, daughters, sisters and friends and how they intersect around the death of a teenage girl. Grabowski’s poignant insights will remind many readers of Elizabeth Strout or Alice Munro. For those who know my taste, this is the high praise I intend it to be.

Lucy is a student whose death at a weekend house party shakes her community. There’s been an episode of cyber-bullying and at the same time, a popular teacher has been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student. The events collide to create extensive accusations and suppositions among friends, parents and faculty. Focusing primarily on female characters, Grabowski exposes just how deeply our lives are rooted in community while exploring relationships – those that are fragile and strong – and how very often it is impossible to tell the difference.

Using age, gender, socioeconomic status and education, Grabowski has a lot to say about the opportunities life offers. Small towns are a rich context for diving into these issues, and Grabowski is efficient in how she uses her characters to that end.

I also love a book with interesting structure. This story is told in ten episodes, each focusing on a different character whose life has in some way intersected with Lucy. The narrator of each story grows in their closeness to Lucy – beginning with a school acquaintance and ending with Lucy’s mother. In addition, the first five stories lead chronologically to the night of Lucy’s death while the second five stories lead chronologically away from it.

I’ve found shorter fiction by Grabowski, but as far as I can tell, this is her first novel. Supposing that’s the case, I’m really looking forward to more by this emerging writer. This would make an excellent book club discussion.

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Women and Children First is constructed as a tapestry, ten stories that intersect and focus on one event: Lucy's death. Five chapters are about women and girls on the day they find out that Jane has died; five are about the aftermath. These people know each other, and as the bokk goes on, we meet people thought he eye of one narrator, only to find out that they tell us their story about the same moment in the nect chapter.

The interesting thing is how we get to know their inner lives, their secrets and insecurities - often unrelated to Lucy in the beginning, sometimes directly related in the second part. Grabowski has written a thematic book that touches on many important issues: Grooming, sexual assault, rape, guilt, Love, sibling relationships, parenthood, motherhood, bullying, ambition, adoption, family dynamics, many different forms of grief, art... This could easily go wrong, but overall I thought this weaving was successful.

I do have one complaint, however, and that is the narrative voice. Grabowski has chosen to give us 10 female first-person narrators. And while they are not all exactly the same, I felt that they were not distinct enough. If I happened to read a non-narrative description, I would have no idea who was speaking. They do not all sound the same, but for a first person narrative they are much too close. If the book had used third person narration, this point would have been moot, but as it is, it sometimes felt like a writing exercise by a woman who knows how to write and decided to split the story into 10 perspectives. Because some of them are so similar, I sometimes found myself realising that these are not real people.

A second aspect that may not please everyone (although I enjoyed it): The book focuses mainly on the inner monologues of the women. It follows their memories, but despite a bloody death, not much happens. It is, after all, an exercise in grief, guilt, regret, and it underlines the humanity of everyone involved. If you have the chance, I would recommend reading it.

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Mesmerizing writing a story of a death of a teenager told through the voices of ten women in a small insular community.A book I hated to put down and will be recommending Avery special read.#netgalley #sjp

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Thank you Netgalley and Zando, SJP lit for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.

"Here’s what happened: I was there. So was she.
I came home.
She didn’t."

To start with, this was completely confusing story. I had to try very hard to understand who is who. Maybe it would have been helpful if there had been a guide to understand the relationships of all the women mentioned with each other. There are two sections pre and post (death).

First pre part is narrated by 5 different women and later post part is narrated by other 5 women. To be honest I was not interested in the story till about first 50-60 %, the main plotline that is death of the girl doesn't really make you feel anything because book does not let you relate to her in first half. Lot many times I thought I will DNF this book but when I take projects here on Netgalley, I try to give my 100 % to every book. And then my perspective for the book changed, I was touched and wounded by the words. By what was happening.

The young girl in the small coastal town dies and ten women tell their part of the story. For some Lucy's death changed their lives. For some even that did not matter. I was feeling why some of these women are so heartless but then isn't that the how it goes? This book is very close to reality so it might feel brutal but people do move on. Those who didn't know the real you do get on easily, those who knew you take a while but they do too because that's life.

First I couldn't really make point of the book but then slowly I realised that we readers were slowly moving towards death of the girl, first watching from far drifting towards her as we came to know her through people. First for people she was just an acquaintance and then closer till we come to know POV of her best friend and her mother.

This is quite different book, I'm not sure if everyone will be able to enjoy it as I did but it is heartbreaking and memorable. And I'm pretty sure that this book is going to stay with me much longer than I would like.

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Women and Children First is a beautifully written novel surrounding the tragedy of a young girl in a small coastal town in Massachusetts. It's written in multiple different perspectives, leaving it to feel somewhat like connected short stories. Each perspective is written wonderfully, though I found the tonal shifts a little hard to get into at first. This is definitely a character driven novel. I recommend this to people who enjoy literary fiction.

Thank you, Netgalley, and the publisher for providing this ARC. All thoughts are my own.

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This is what a coming of age story should be. WACF is a trippy narrative woven around grief and tragedy, and it does so respectfully. Despite the switches of timelines and other back and forth, it deals with its subject matter with great care. I will be returning to this book again.

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Some gorgeous, raw writing. The structure of this book was so unique -- I wasn't sure I would love the narrative being separated into so many viewpoints but the author did a beautiful job carrying so many threads together. Each chapter was like a short story & each character so well developed with a distinct voice. Some funny, some emotional & deep.
I would love to reread this book especially once out for publication and see whether anything is changed about the ending.

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Grabowski's novel delves into the aftermath of a teenage girl's sudden death in a small, struggling town in Massachusetts. The narrative unfolds through the perspectives of ten women, spanning different ages, relationships, and degrees of connection to the young girl's life. These voices, whether closely entwined, on the fringes, or profoundly affected, collectively shape the poignant tapestry of the story.

The storytelling adopts a circular structure, with individual narratives navigating through time, oscillating between past and present. This dynamic approach propels the plot forward while offering fresh insights by revisiting events from varied perspectives. Despite the contemporary and complex nature of Grabowski's narrative, it resonates with timeless themes — the challenges faced by young girls transitioning into womanhood and the reflections of older women on their own youth.

Throughout the tale, there is a yearning for better communication between generations, with a desire for young girls to heed the wisdom of their mothers, and for mothers to better understand their daughters. This modern yet ageless tragedy is recommended for enthusiasts of women-centric literary fiction. Gratitude to NetGalley, Zando Projects, and SJP Lit for providing the e-ARC.

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SJP has impeccable taste, this was such a visceral experience and the style and tone felt really fresh and relevant.

I will update this review once I post to socials and formulate some thoughts.

I think this book will make a big splash in literary fiction.

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There was so much to like and admire about this book. It has a fantastic sense of place and rich characters. Some of the individual scenes and interactions between characters were some of the best I can ever remember reading. Personally I wished for more time with most of them, and found it difficult in some cases to continually move onto a new character. I think this structure might be challenging for some readers, but I think overall it was effective.

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Women and Children first is probably the best debut I've read in 2024 so far. Our setting is a small Massachusetts town that is rapidly decaying and then a young woman suspiciously dies at a house party. The community is shaking from both their loss of job stability and then this jarring event. Our story is really the story of ten women of this town that are affected, in some way, by these events. We get into the heads of these ten women as they experience the grief, loss, and attempts at solving the puzzle of what happened.

I loved this book. Not because of the mystery, but because of the way these ten lives were interconnected and the way the community's story was told. The bad reviews I've seen have said this was "disconnected", but I could not disagree more. Yes, we do move from POV to POV and yes, I sometimes wanted to stay with one woman longer than Grabowski allowed us, but this is very much a story of interconnectedness and her structure highlighted that brilliantly. I was gripped from the beginning and sad to leave the world created behind. This was so sharp and so beautiful.

Read if you liked Disappearing Earth or want to piece together a puzzle slowly, carefully, and with some bite and a lot of heart.

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Alina Grabowksi hit it out of the park with Women and Children First. My one wish is that I read this in a physical copy rather than electronically, so I could easily look back in the book.

Women and Children takes an event — the death of a student, Lucy, a student at a Nashquitten, Massachusetts high school. Lucy dies at a house party and this story line is threaded through the stories (each a chapter) of 10 women living in the town. There are other students, adults, Lucy’s mothers each have a voice in this coming-of-age story of loss and living in a decaying costal town.

At first, I wasn’t shore I would be able to stay into the narrative with 10 different voices — that’s a lot of perspective changing in one book. But, at three chapters in, it worked for me. Why? The women are so different that their voices are different even though some of them are the same age. This is a quiet impactful book that won’t be for everyone, but I loved it so much.

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A chorus of ten diverse women — residents of Nashquitten, Massachusetts, a decaying coastal beach town that tourist season cannot resuscitate — address their lives in a claustrophobic small town that coalesce in the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of a young woman, Lucy Anderson, at a house party. Alina Grabowski unspools the story through artfully crafted vignettes told from each characters’ perspective. Layla is the interim counselor at the local high school. She has suspicions about the new math teacher, Rob, who seems to enjoy the attention of students “who make him feel valuable whereas women his own age do not.” But, Layla may be too sensitive because, as a high school student, she dropped out of soccer, a sport she had excelled in, when her coach started paying her “special attention.” Jane is an industrious student who works and tends to her mother’s mysterious ailments while enjoying thrills and risks. She is having a clandestine affair with the math teacher, but she seems unaffected by the inequitable relationship: “Everything with Rob is an experiment. I learn what I like and what I don’t. And I know that he, unlike the boys at school, won’t tell a single person.” Mona’s parents gifted her with the home where Layla is renting a room. Mona has been unsuccessful in her attempts to be accepted into a graduate program. When her co-worker, Marina, a teenager with aspirations to become a gynecologist shows up on the periphery of Mona’s yard, accompanied by a friend whose dress is spattered in blood, Mona takes no action.

Grabowski fully immerses the reader in each of the novel’s first-person sections so that the characters and their thwarted dreams are come alive. She addresses some powerful themes, including complicated mother-daughter relationships, grooming and sexual abuse, the misuse of social media, and the impact of status and wealth. Grabowski has created a deeply affecting and smart debut novel that explores how a seemingly tight-knit community can fall short. Thank you Zando Project and Net Galley for an advance copy of this fabulous read.

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I loved this book so much and marveled in the authors talent in regards to being able to tie together ten POVs! Very enjoyable read, very distinct voices and I found myself missing some of the characters when their piece was over.
Human beings are so complicated and the characters in this book are both good and bad and it was so interesting to get the POV of what other's thought of them and then right after get into their heads to see what's really going on.
Alina Grabowski deserves the positive feedback she's getting. Women and Children first is a five star read. Please read this book. You won't regret it.

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Fantastic literary fiction. Lucy, a high schooler has died in the fictional seaside town of Nashquitten Massachusetts. The story unfolds as we hear bits and pieces from ten women from the town. Told in their voices and from their points of view, each story is like a puzzle piece and then the whole picture emerges. This is some intelligent writing and the author has great talent to have woven it all up so expertly. This is not fast paced and you have to keep an eye on the details and the multiple characters to avoid getting confused. And then brace yourself for a wonderful ride navigating a host of contemporary issues confronting teenagers and their parents and teachers .
Thank you Net Galley, Zando Publishing and Alina Grabowski for the ARC

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How do the women in a small coastal town in Massachusetts cope with a tragedy?

Welcome to Nashquitten, MA, a small town on the coast whose best days are behind it. In it live the women who narrate alternating chapters in this captivating novel, each of whom has her own connection to the tragic death of a high school student in town and who each of whom has a unique perspective on the event. Some of the narrators are friends and classmates of the dead girl, others work at the school she attended, and some know her in the way that everyone in a small town knows one another. As I read each of their stories, I learned about the town, its dynamics, its foibles, and the people who call it home. Who was the young woman who died, and what happened on the night of her death? Who is to blame?
This subtly crafted novel first seemed to be a collection of short stories with a commonality of place, but as the reader continues it is clear that this is one story told by many. There is so much to absorb, from the damage that people do to one another to the way one event affects even those who don’t seem connected to it . There is sadness, grief, anger, jealousy, and love and much more. Its writing is reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout, Kent Haruf and Howard Norman at their best; fans of these authors’ works should absolutely make sure that this book gets prominent placement on their TBR pile, as should any reader who loves a well-crafted novel, beautifully written. Many thanks to NetGalley and Zando/SJP Lit for allowing me early access to this novel, whose characters will stay with me for a long while.

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Two things stood out to me about this book in a really positive way -- first, the writing was exceptionally beautiful. The descriptions and analogies were poetic, but not over the top. The author really created the atmosphere of this Massachusetts shore town which was moody and a little downtrodden. There were so many passages in this book that make for lovely quotes you want to read aloud or pass along. The second thing that stood out was the interesting way in which it was written. The novel has ten chapters, each from a different girl or woman's point of view. All of the stories are interconnected, and all tie into the time before and after the death of a young girl in the town. Each one reads almost like a short story, but then as you get further along you start to see the relationship between all the characters. A really innovative way to write a book, but somehow it just worked. The one downside I would note -- and this may be unique to the digital version -- it was hard for me to keep track of which person's story I was reading when I put the book down and came back -- there were no headers on the page and I had to remind myself each time. If you like female-forward character-driven books, this is one you will probably love.

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Women and Children First by Alina Grabowski was a fantastic story.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was very intriguing and such a wonderfully written story.
The different POVs made for an even more exciting read and pumped the tension up.
I thoroughly enjoyed and was hooked for the entirety of this story and can only commend the author on writing a very intriguing book.

Thank You NetGalley and Publisher for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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A very interesting book about this girl named lucy and how she died in the book and everybody had different opinions why she died. It was told by different women in this book. Everybody had a chapter Named after her and they told the story through.They are perspective why this happened. It was really interesting to look at.How these social media came about and how I can destroy people. Lucy was gonna be a great artist, but she wanted to have some freedom too.. It was interesting.When one of the girls went to new york to visit her grandfather who raised her as a child. Lucy always wanted to go to new york and lose her virginity. So they decided they were gonna do it for her but nothing ever happened. The older sister was a hell raiser. Her mother left her to go live in california when she divorced her father because she couldn't take it anymore. I like the bar scene when they're all working. But this start to go away because they opened a new bar down the street. It was interesting how they described lost an especially south station. Like how the older sister reacted to Lucy.Because she was going to camp and how she was starting to change. Things become very difficult in high school for lucy but she made a go of it. I think this is an interesting book. On the title called women and children first. The women were talking about their lives but also about the children who were involved in this book. The ending is very different and you'll find out why.

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5 Stars!

Thanks to NetGalley and Zando Projects for sharing an advance copy of WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST.

I was captivated by this story of a high school girl's death, and the waves her untimely passing made in her small town. Set in Massachusetts, the novel follows ten different girls/women, all written in the first person. There are echoes of Elizabeth Strout's OLIVE KITTERIDGE and Jennifer Egan's A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD.

Grabowski's strength lies in the voices of these characters - I found her writing to be witty, wonderfully specific, and a bit cynical. There are a lot of clever observations in this novel that will appeal to readers who focus on voice over plot. As the book progresses, we learn more about Lucy and how she died, and the characters form a chorus revealing the different ways grief reverberates through the town.

Overall, a compelling and kaleidoscopic examination of a tragedy and of the inner lives of women.

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An exceptional debut.

Ostensibly, this is a novel about a local high school girl‘s death. It is told - in ten chapters divided into two parts, pre and post Lucy‘s death - through the eyes of ten different women who knew Lucy, some better than others. And yet Lucy, and what happens to her, is never the focus of the novel; especially in the first part of the book, she is often mentioned merely in passing, by people not especially close to her. The more the book progresses - and especially in the aftermath of her death -, the closer the narrators were to Lucy, going from mere acquaintance or school guidance counselor to Lucy‘s best friend, and finally, her mom, spiraling inevitably towards those whose lives are shattered the most by her death.

While Lucy‘s death is the central point towards which and from which these stories grow and these women evolve, Lucy herself is still, at best, a side character. Center stage take three groups of women who interacted with her to varying degrees and whose lives are intertwined in the way those of people living in a small town generally are: teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, their mothers, and young, childless women still finding their way. The men, if mentioned at all, are often useless, sometimes downright predatory.

The idea behind the old maritime saying „women and children first“ - that is, to first save those viewed as more vulnerable and, at the time when the phrase was coined, less capable - is put on its head in this book because here, it‘s the women, young and older, who shoulder it all: the secrets, the blame, the responsibilities, the grief, the shame.

„Women and Children First“ deals with heavy subjects such ad death, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and abandonment without ever feeling too dark, or unrealistic. I was stunned by this book. It is wholly original and captured in poised, vivid, beautiful writing. Truly remarkable debut.

Thank you to NetGalley and SJP Lit for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This book is quiet perfection. From the way Grabowski structured this story, to the glimpses of the different lives we're allowed to see because of this structure, there is so much feeling and emotion weaved throughout the pages.

This book is told from the perspectives of 10 women; each one only has one section or chapter, but they do overlap in each other's POVs because of the essence of small town life. Each POV deals with events before and leading up to the book's central and inciting "conflict" and what happens after. A tragedy at a high school party leads the friends and family and even almost strangers to grapple with what it means to lose someone, and to ask themselves the question: why?

Each character could have a book of their own and I'd gladly gobble them all up. But I truly liked the smaller glimpses of each character as we went along and discovering how they were connected to Lucy, our center point. There are ancillary ways -- one witnesses a parent's horror and grief, another regrets not bothering to ask questions of two teen girls she finds on her property late at night, obviously in distress -- and there are the characters most affected like the girl's mother and best friend; each POV peels back the curtain into their lives just enough to understand them, and to see how this affects a small town already so touched by death.

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This was such a gripping, beautifully written story! WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST transports readers to the sleepy coastal town of Nashquitten, Massachusetts. When a young woman, Lucy, dies at a party under mysterious circumstances, the lives of those in this close-knit community are turned upside down. Told from several different perspectives, the story draws readers into the worlds of ten very different women, all with varying connections to Lucy and each other, providing a clearer picture of the town, of their lives, of Lucy herself...and of the truth about what really happened on that awful night.

This book had me captivated from start to finish—Alina Grabowski is clearly such a talented writer, and I was so absorbed in the setting she created, following these complex women and their lives in this small town. This isn't always an easy read, mainly due to the heavy subject matter, but the writing will have you hooked nonetheless. I also thought the narrative structure was so interesting, how as we learn more about each character, we're also progressively getting closer to Lucy with every chapter, seeing her through the eyes of people who knew and loved her. The multiple perspectives were similarly well-done, and I enjoyed seeing how the characters' journeys intersected throughout the story, like there was always a common thread pulling their lives together somehow. Overall, I thought WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST was a fantastic debut, and look forward to seeing what Grabowski writes next! Thank you to NetGalley, Zando, and SJP Lit for the ARC.

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Beautiful writing - I loved this and wanted to spend more time with each character.

Multiple perspectives can be a hit or miss in storytelling and this was done so well - ten chapters, each told from the point of view from a different woman living in a small Northeastern town. How each character is connected to the central plot (a young woman dies at a party) is not always clear from the start of a chapter. The author does a lovely job of revealing how all of the women’s lives are intertwined as the story unfolds.

Thank you very much to Zando and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this excellent debut.

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Ohhh depressing litfic right on the cusp of feminine rage, you will always be That Girl to me.

Set in a small coastal Massachusetts town, this stunning debut revolves around the death of a young woman at a house party and the impact it has on the tight-knit community. The story is told through the eyes of ten local women through a series of vignettes, and each of these women provide their own perspective and connection to the deceased girl, Lucy. This unique narrative structure provides a multi-faceted view of the events surrounding her death and the subsequent ripple effects on the town.

The novel explores themes of grief, womanhood, class, and sexuality, painting a vivid portrait of a community grappling with tragedy. Grabowski skillfully weaves together the lives of these women, creating a compelling narrative that captures their interconnectedness and the complex emotions they experience. The story delves into the relationships among mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends, revealing the fragility and strength of these connections.

The characters in "Women and Children First" are well-developed and realistic, with unique voices and perspectives that add depth to the story. The shifting narratives and timeframes keep the reader engaged, creating a sense of mystery and intrigue. The book balances the darkness of the tragedy with moments of hope and resilience, offering a poignant exploration of love and loss.

There's emotional depth and unique structure present here that, in my opinion, make this a compelling read for those interested in literary fiction with elements of mystery and drama.

This story is a captivating and insightful novel that explores the impact of tragedy on a small community. Its complex characters and intricate storytelling earn it a solid 5-star rating. This book is likely to resonate with readers who appreciate literary fiction that delves into the human condition and the bonds that connect us.

Thank you to NetGalley, Alina Grabowski, and SJP Lit for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. This book is out May 7!

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I really enjoyed the structure of this novel. It is about the death of a young girl, you learn about her and the circumstances surrounding her death from ten of the women around her. It unfolds a bit like a mystery but ends up being more about POV.

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I am in love with this book. I will read it again and again!

There is nothing better than a book that you cannot predict...something with beautiful language, interesting characters and an unpredictable ending or rhythm to the story. In Women and Children First, Alina Grabowksi has done this and created a work of true art.

The small town in Massachusetts is imploding upon itself and small towns without tourists tend to do. The death of a young woman rocks the town but in many different ways. Grabowski throws us right into the action by utilizing ten chapters to introduce 10 different women. Each woman is touched by this death but all in different ways. The 10 are organized before and after the death and as a bystander, you are meant to put the pieces together, grieve with the friends, the mother, the neighbor and wonder what went wrong.

I suspect I will experience something different every time I read this novel and I will test it now! I cannot wait to re-read it and experience this true literary work, a master work, again!
#Zando #SJPLIT #sarahJessicaParker #sarahjessicaparkerliterature

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This was a tough one to get into. 10 different characters, with different perspectives. I was confused for about half the book, until things became a little clearer. I was maybe 1/3 of the way through when I wanted to quit, and I'm not really sure why I didn't. Well, I'm glad I didn't. While I can't say I actually enjoyed this, I can certainly say that I appreciate what the author accomplished -- this is pretty darn good. If you can get past the part where a young kid dies, a cast of characters that feels helpless and mostly morose, hopefully you can appreciate the skill that the author has shown here.

I was maybe 85% done, and I nodded off in the midst of a passage. When I struggled into consciousness perhaps an hour later, I felt really down and glum. It took me 5 minutes to figure out it was the book that put me there. That's talent, and I appreciate it.

Well done. Be prepared to feel blue, and be a little confused. I think it was well worth it.

I received a complimentary copy of the novel from the publisher and NetGalley, and my review is being left freely.

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