Give Me Your Hand
Give Me Your Hand
by Annie Condon
Megan Abbott was a guest of the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2017, and I heard her speak in a session titled, ‘The Dark Side of Womanhood’. Abbott, a literary thriller writer, spoke about her enjoyment of creating female characters who are seen as ‘transgressors’ – women who challenge white, middle-class female norms. She described her characters as having strong wills and unrivalled ambitions, and often harbouring secrets that set them apart from their peers.
Abbott’s new novel, Give Me Your Hand, begins with a teenage friendship that turns sour. Kit enjoys study sessions and a burgeoning friendship with school newcomer Diane, until one day Diane reveals a weighty secret that overwhelms Kit. She distances herself from Diane, however they are rivals for a college scholarship program and still must work closely together in their advanced science classes.
Ten years later, Kit is working for her academic idol, Professor Severin. Kit is the first in the laboratory and the last out – determined to prove she should be chosen for the Professor’s prestigious research project. But just weeks before the research team is announced, Professor Severin introduces the staff to a new addition she has poached from another laboratory – Diane. Kit is stunned and unsure how to deal with Diane. And she is also concerned Diane may have been recruited specifically for the research project she had her heart set on. Kit has to decide whether to let her former friend back into her life, and if she should reveal Diane’s secret.
Abbott’s writing is direct and personable, and the tension builds as she tells the story of the blighted friendship. Diane’s secret is revealed a third of the way into the book, however, the chain of events that occur when Diane comes to work at the lab makes for explosive action, and the revelation of many other secrets. I particularly enjoyed the fine detailing of laboratory life, and the strong characterisation for which Abbott is known.
Annie Condon works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.
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