American author Megan Abbott’s explorations of the dark heart of female adolescence in novels such as Dare Me and The End of Everything are second to none, and in her latest book, Give Me Your Hand, she presents the equally blood-curdling tale of adult frenemies Kit and Diane...Beautifully written and unbearably tense, this is a standout study of ambition, rivalry and fear.
Abbott has written some of the smartest, most engrossing literary thrillers you’ll find on the market today, and Give Me Your Hand is no exception. They’re all the more satisfying because she inverts the trope of girl as victim, instead presenting her readers with female characters bubbling over with agency, dark and violent as it may be.... Abbott evokes the ruthless world of early career academia with aplomb; this readymade tension adds a dose of rocket fuel to a narrative that’s already pulled taut as a drum. This is a novel about female rage, but it’s also about female resilience, ambition and hard work.
“Give Me Your Hand” is steeped in the feminine gothic. Kit has a “memory of an ancient nightmare, Diane under my bed, shaking it by the springs.” The book sends taproots into the “dark, messy stuff” that Abbott links to womanhood—but she is not prompting us, as in a Dead Girl story, to identify with the murder victim. This novel, instead, explores what characters who have been beaten down and confined by sexism might be capable of...Just as success at élite levels is impossible without sacrifice, Abbott slyly hints, the sweetness, the impossible innocence, of femininity entails a dark seam.
Give Me Your Hand is at its best when Kit is facing challenges both extraordinary and mundane, worrying about backbiting colleagues while also being grilled by a detective whose Columbo-like “one more thing” question is devastating. Throughout it all, Abbott keeps readers off guard with unsettling scenes of death, and perhaps even more disturbing inner monologues. From a high school senior’s tiny bedroom to a clean and orderly lab, Abbott can bring horror anywhere.