Kait Heacock is a writer, book publicist, book reviewer, and events coordinator at Elliott Bay Book Company. Her writing has appeared most recently in Liber Review, Evergreen Review, Women's Review of Books, The Millions, and Literary Hub. Kait is currently at work on a novel about how women face their fears, both superficial and existential, as played out at an immersive horror-themed sleepaway camp for adults. In her spare time, she edits for Joyland.
Reviews & Recommendations
Carol Anshaw’s nineties novel follows one woman, Jesse Austin, through three possible lives. After a quick opening set at the 1968 Olympics, where Jesse takes silver in the 100 meter swim and loses to her first love, Australian beauty Marty Finch, the plot forks into Jesse's three lives. Near the end of the book in the section about her third possible life, in which she is a single mother raising two kids and managing a swimming facility in Florida, there is a line about Jesse's son: "Sorting through all the ways he can be until he gets to who he's going to become." I think this line best encapsulates Aquamarine. It explores the missed opportunities and the what-ifs that make up a life.
Abbott writes literary mysteries with a feminist bent. Her books feature nuanced female relationships and take place in competitive settings: a gymnastics gym, a cheerleading squad, a ballet school. Before she hit her stride as a contemporary mystery writer, she cut her teeth writing noirs. She is an impressive student of the genre and continues a noir lineage started by Dorothy B. Hughes, Vera Caspary, and Patricia Highsmith. The Song Is You is a sendup of classic Hollywood and the fixers who made sure the system worked right, often at the expense of women who got in the way of powerful men. It’s dark and a little nihilistic and will keep you turning the page until the brutal ending.
If you have even a passing familiarity with horror films, you’ve likely heard the term “final girl.” This is the book – an academic look at the intersection of the horror genre and gender – that coined the term. Clover, a film professor, wrote this book as a way to better understand the popularity of the horror genre among young men. She breaks down the genre into sub-categories–slasher, possession, urbanoia – and explores the nuances of gender in horror tropes like the slasher versus the final girl. This book will deepen your knowledge of horror cinema and make you a more perceptive critic – and fan – of it.
This book gutted me. No book captures the turning point from childhood to girlhood with the precision that Febos brings to the page. This essay collection takes readers to the darkest parts of girlhood – sexual assault, body image, slut-shaming – and asks us to analyze these facets that are all too common to the universal experience of girlhood. She excavates old trauma in a way that is demonstrative rather than exploitative. Febos is a brave and gifted essayist who packs tiny universes of lush imagery and necessary truth-telling into each piece. This book is like an offering of forgiveness to your childhood self.