Come and Get It

Putnam. Jan. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9780593328200. $29. F
In her second novel, after her multi-best-booked Such a Fun Age, Reid offers an illuminating study of power, responsibility, and the bad choices we sometimes make, written in the fresh, bright language for which she’s known. In 2017, Agatha, a commanding, emotionally careless 38-year-old white woman with several major books to her credit, arrives at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, to serve as a visiting professor while researching social attitudes toward weddings. Upon meeting several women students, she changes her focus to campus culture, with her research helped along by 24-year-old Black resident assistant Millie, who is painstakingly saving to buy her own house. Millie is crushing on resident director Josh but is also deeply attracted to Agatha, who is no more scrupulous regarding Millie than she is in her journalistic endeavors; she eavesdrops on students and then publishes lightly disguised, if heavily trafficked pieces in Teen Vogue. Millie and Agatha’s affair will have consequences, and not just for them, yet what’s most remarkable here is the grace and understanding the author shows her characters. That includes Kennedy, a student overcoming depression after making a terrible mistake, who has her own reasons for wanting to take a class with Agatha.
VERDICT An emotionally intense exploration of power dynamics within relationships that doesn’t settle for easy villains and victims.
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