Big Swiss

Scribner. Feb. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781982153083. $27. F
The Bollinger short-listed Beagin (Vacuum in the Dark) confronts sexuality, relationships, addiction, violence, and small-town living in a novel featuring damaged people striving to become whole. When Greta was 13 years old, her mother died by suicide, and she was raised by a series of relatives, each a little less savory than the last. As an adult, she dumps her fiancé of 10 years and starts afresh by moving to a small New York town, where she consults a therapist and eventually becomes his transcriptionist. Greta soon becomes intrigued with a woman she nicknames Big Swiss, whose therapy sessions she is transcribing, but she can’t venture any closer; she’s constrained by her confidentiality agreement with the therapist. Then she accidentally encounters Big Swiss at the dog park and recognizes her voice. Big Swiss is looking for a friend, but the relationship soon turns sexual, which means Greta must lie about who she is. What that means for the relationship eventually forces Greta to confront her past.
VERDICT Beagin mixes biting humor and deadly serious topics to create a complex and compelling narrative that readers of redemption stories will enjoy.
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