Women and Children First

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Pub Date 07 May 2024 | Archive Date Not set
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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ISBN 9781638930785
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Average rating from 55 members

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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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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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 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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